Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baptists and Food

I have been informed by many ex-Mennonites that no one cooks like Mennonites. One cost of leaving the church/community is that for the rest of your life, when you go to potlucks, you think, "Dear me, why doesn't someone bring some decent FOOD to these things?"

A while back some of us attended a children's event at a Baptist church. [Details will be kept vague.] Meals were included in the price and in my opinion were on the spendy side. However, I saw four busy, aproned, matronly ladies rattling around the kitchen looking very serious about their job, so I figured the meals would be worth the cost.

They also had four teenaged helpers.

Meal A consisted of tacos. Hard shells from a box, clammy unseasoned fried hamburger, cold refried beans from a can, and a few toppings such as lettuce. Dessert was cupcake papers with a few little cookies, and cups of jello. A stern aproned cook guarded the desserts and informed even adults that it was cookies OR jello, not both.

Meal B consisted of buns from a bag, cooked hot dogs, potato chips, baby carrots, and a food that actually required processing by human hands: apple slices.

If you've ever been Mennonite you can imagine the conversation among us ladies on the way home. Jenny said, "Mom, you could have cooked and served a meal like that all by yourself!"

"Are all Baptists terrible cooks?" I asked. Trish thought that was unfair stereotyping. "Maybe nobody wanted to cook for this event, and they finally found a few people who were willing, but they didn't know what they were doing."

Today I once again got to taste Baptist food when the First Baptist Church in Junction City invited me to speak at their annual tea. The main room had twenty round tables all lavishly decorated, and through the doorway into the kitchen I glimpsed a number of earnest men(!) busily preparing food. One of them wore a white chef jacket.

The menu was printed on the program:

Herb Roasted Turkey Croissant
with watercress, roma tomato, dill havarti, and tarragon & Dijon aioli

Spinach Salad
with pear, cranberry, candied hazelnuts, chevre cheese, and creamy balsamic dressing

Creamy artichoke, roasted garlic and potato soup

Strawberry shortcake

It turned out that the menu was chosen by a Jeremy Lowman, the guy in the chef outfit, who is a member of the church and also a caterer of some renown.

The food was just that good, too. Oh my yes.

I could jump to further conclusions here about Baptist men vs. Baptist women and food, but I think it's time to quit making such assumptions. It's really not fair.

Since I don't like it when all Mennonites get dumped into the same box. Unless, of course, people stereotype us all as being good cooks.

Quote of the Day:
[the day after Amy left for Jamaica and Emily and Ben went to the east coast to drive Em's car back]
I thought Jenny said: It's so sad when those three are gone.
Me: I know, but we'll have fun while they're away.
Jenny: Mom!! I was actually talking about the kittens! I said, I'LL BE so sad when those three are gone!


  1. We've been to a lot of Baptist churches that had wonderful home cooking. Of course, down here, you have the Southern cooks. And of course, some that drop by KFC to bring a bucket-o-chicken to a potluck. It really depends on the people--some can cook well and others don't.

    My first thought was that since it was a children's event, they planned simple meals that most children would eat. I've found that many children do not eat what the typical Mennonite child would be familiar with.

  2. I grew up Baptist and I'd have to say that your description of Meal A and B is pretty accurate...maybe pizza and/or casseroles if things are going gourmet. lol. They aren't all bad cooks but, if there was a cookoff, Mennonites would win from my experience. :)

  3. This reminded me of a story my sister-in-law tells. The first public school activity she attended for her son, they had asked the moms to supply cookies. So she dutifully baked a couple dozen, and took them in her tupperware. At the activity all the other moms whip out Oreos, and Chips Ohoy. "I felt so Mennonite" she said.

  4. Mary Ann, I thought about that, that maybe they're just trying to be child-friendly. But even children like their hamburger hot, with a bit of taco seasoning!
    Lindsey--I was glad to have a Baptist weigh in!
    Andrea--that made me laugh.

  5. I was raised Baptist. Could a difference between Baptist and Mennonite cooks be that many Baptists, as a group, do not value the skills of running a home the way many Mennonites do. Cooking is a disagreeable chore to be dealt with after a long day at work away from home, not work to be lovingly preformed to nourish the divine within each of us.

  6. Interesting thought, Ray, and a good reminder to look at household tasks as so much more than mundane and disagreeable.

  7. Hahaha!! Too funny.

    On the flip side, I just had to add(as a Mennonite) that I've seen a couple Mennonite potlucks where the majority of the foods were less than desirable. Actually, not even identifiable. I know it's rare, but they're out there...

  8. I've grown up Baptist, here in Oregon (in fact, the one mentioned that put on the Ladies' Tea), and there's a saying "Baptists love their food." And our church has even published a cookbook chock full of wonderful recipes. So I'm thinking it must be the specific Baptist churches. I was VERY surprised to hear about the church serving a pathetic taco meal. So, as Dorcas said, I guess we just can't stereotype!