Despite common perception, there is more to be had in the Utah food scene than green Jell-O and Funeral potatoes. Growing up I remember amazing gigantic peaches, Red Delicious apples from my grandpa’s orchard, and tons of zucchini and sweet corn. I was raised on those simple culinary pleasures, but it was in California where my real foodie tendencies began.
Coming back to Utah after over a decade spent in California was a little bit frustrating at the grocery store, particularly in a small town. It was even worse after having had access to all the great local foods in Ireland, and the amazing French grocery stores before that.
Lest you begin to think me a total food snob, let me get to the little treasures we found, or grew up indulging in, here in Utah. Nope, this isn’t a list of gourmet eateries using the best of the Utah produce (although I am sure that list exists somewhere). I am a bit embarrassed to say this is a junk food list. (Well, minus the coffee. That is a staple, as far as I’m concerned.)
Cappuccinos from Willow Canyon
One funny little thing that made it clear we were in Utah (aside from the less frequent coffee shops and absolute paucity of good bars) was the option for fry sauce with fries and burgers. Fry sauce is a mix of mayo and ketchup, sometimes with a bit of relish added in (think In-N-Out’s special sauce). I’ve long preferred mayo with fries, encouraged by a Dutch and a Belgian in my life. But I grew up in the land of fry sauce. Plain ketchup will never do.
Here in our sorta hometown we had burgers made from buffalo meat (southwest, yo), and fries with that tasty sauce. Slummin’ it Southwest style.
Alberto's Mexican Food
These little drive-through Mexican food joints come under a slew of names, all variations of the original. In northern Utah it was Beto’s. In Phoenix it was Filibertos. I’ve seen Adalberto’s in California, and here in Southern Utah it is Alberto’s. Despite different names, all the restaurants are roughly the same. The best part is their tortillas. Huge, chewy and tasting similar to homemade, they are awesome. Wrapped around a Chili Rellano burrito, hold the beans (my usual) and they are downright awesome.
Granny B's Cookies
Of course, I’ve saved the best for last. These giant cookies were something I took for granted growing up. During the decade I lived in California there were a couple of times I bought sugar cookies expecting something like these. I was disappointed both times. You can’t beat the original, I guess. Not without a lot of homemade effort.
Available at most gas stations and several grocery stores, Granny B’s cookies now come in a variety of flavors, but save yourself the time and the sugar and just go for the pink. They are the only ones that matter anyway.