From molasses to corn cakes, the food our ancestors ate is an important part of history and can tell a story in itself.
"Pioneers were eating all kinds of surprising and interesting things. Brigham Young liked to eat pigeons," said Brock Cheney of Willard, a Mormon food expert, blogger and author.
Cheney will be reading from his freshly published book, "Plain but Wholesome: Foodways of the Mormon Pioneers" (University of Utah Press), at the 15th Annual Utah Humanities Book Festival, a string of literary events throughout the state in October for National Book Month.
Cheney's reading at Weber State University this week is free to the public; it is at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in the Special Collections department of the Stewart Library on campus.
The author did much of his research for "Plain but Wholesome" in WSU Special Collections, where he found manuscripts and diaries from the pioneer era.
Much of what he discovered was purely fascinating, Cheney said.
For example, in 1868, a shipment of fresh oysters showed up in Salt Lake City. The oysters were shipped live, packed in boxes of ice. Cornmeal, sprinkled on the ice, filtered down as the ice melted, to feed the oysters along the way. "So people were eating oysters on the half shell in Salt Lake," Cheney said.
"Plain but Wholesome" contains approximately 60 historical photos; Cheney will have a slide show with many of the photos during the reading.