Sunday, August 23, 2020


The first time I visited Skylar's family in Portland I thought maybe the Pacific Northwest was experiencing a famine that hadn't made the news in Utah. We were invited for dinner at the home of one of Skylar's sisters. In my memory, 12 asparagus spears were delicately placed on a white plate and offered to the crowd of 10 people that had gathered. Skylar thinks I'm exaggerating and swears it wasn't that bad. I took offense to his accusation, which is totally unfair as I've never before exaggerated in my life.

As soon as I saw the full dinner offering I made a silent note to myself to venture out later that evening and find myself some more food. The meal was phenomenal. Skylar has two sisters who should be working as head chefs in some pretentious Manhattan kitchen. Instead they waste their skills feeding us.

But although the food was delicious, I stated what I thought to be the obvious to Skylar as soon as we got back to the car afterward: "WHY IS YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY ON A FASTING DIET."

Skylar politely told me I was overreacting, and then he said something I hadn't really ever realized. "Honey, they are normal. You are not. You are incapable of cooking for two or four or even ten people. You only ever cook for fifty."

I told him this is how all of my friends and family are. He agreed. And then it finally hit me that there must still be some major residual Mormon left in me.

Suddenly I had flashbacks to stewing two large pots of borsch that would last Skylar and me several weeks. I saw Daniel and I in Palau make 60 deviled eggs for a snack for the two of us. Lord, last night I made five very large bowls of caramel popcorn for four people. We currently have 16 quarts of pickles in our basement. AND SKYLAR WON'T EVEN EAT PICKLES.

Why do we do this? Is this really just a Mormon thing or a Utah thing? If so, why?

Anyway, please enjoy this week's Strangerville, including a story told on stage by yours truly.

This time in Strangerville, oh the confidence of straight single men. Also, a story told on stage about getting stuck on a swampy island at the Guatemala/Mexico border.


Guatemala, by Eli McCann

Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. I’m gonna guess it’s a Mormon/big families thing.

  2. My husband's grandmother (not a Mormon, very New Jersey) believed that for every dish you served, you should have enough so that if ALL your guests ONLY wanted to eat that thing, you'd still have enough. She passed this way of thinking on to my MIL (who is a convert)(and also shows love by trying to feed you). I can't send my kids to her house without them coming back with three or four dozen cookies.

    I remember planning a birthday/housewarming party. We were expecting 24 guests and the boxed cake mix I'd bought said it made 24 cupcakes, so I explained to my husband that that should be perfect! He looked at me and then very gently asked, "What if one of the guests wants more than one cupcake?"

    I've slowly been edging towards my MIL's way of feeding people. It's not looking good for my waistline...

  3. Frankly, 12 asparagus spears for 10 people is 12 asparagus spears too many.

    I'm doing better but there are some things I can only cook in quantity. Enchiladas are two pans. Always. I have a friend who can make just enough chicken and noodles for two people, but I'm pretty sure it's witchcraft. I can only manage a huge pot. I have leftovers a lot.

  4. One of my greatest fears is not having enough food for my guests. I once had a pie night and had more whole pies than people (just in case they were super hungry). Born and raised in Utah. I thought everyone was like this.

  5. I think it’s a cultural month in thing. I’m in CA but have the same problem. It comes from always wanting to have enough but never knowing exactly how many people will show up. This applies to church functions and family parties alike. So you make, serve, prepare and worry too much!

  6. When my mother in law (or anyone) comes to visit, they always panic at how little food we have in the fridge and pantry, and then every single time she swears it’s some kind of black magic that we manage to keep feeding our guests. We only go to the store twice a month. Sometimes I’m not even sure where the food materializes from. 🤷‍♀️ i guess we are some kind of Mormon/Midwest anomaly.

  7. Not Mormon and from Pennsylvania. I was raised to always cook for at least 20. And if only 2 people are there for the meal, great...leftovers for days!

  8. I’m Italian, so over cooking is ingrained in me. The problem is, I’m not big on leftovers, unless its pasta. Then sign me up! Luckily, my husband will eat leftovers.

  9. It is very much a Mormon thing, my MIL cooks for a small army, her theory is if she cooks enough she has leftovers for days and weeks afterward....i might eat them 2nd day, but not weeks after!!

  10. I think this is a cultural thing AND a space thing. I live in Seattle in a very small (and sadly very expensive) house. There is no way I'm making too much extra of anything - I just don't have the space to store it. But my mom who lives in a large house in Wisconsin by herself has two refrigerators (shout out to the garage fridge) AND an extra basement pantry - I guess you have to fill the space if you have it.

  11. Not a Mormon, but my family has always made sure there is enough to feed each guest 5 times over. I mean this could be the first meal they have had in a week, so we don't want them to feel like they have to stop eating because there isn't enough food for everyone. I would blame my dad's side of the family, where they grew up on a farm, with 6 kids, but my mom does all the cooking and she is the one who taught me this trait of cooking to feed an army. We like leftovers, so having extra food is never a problem in our house. I like only having to cook 3 times a week instead of 7. :)