Beliefs can be a tricky thing to navigate.
Everyone holts their own set of beliefs, defined by their religion or upbringing or circumstance.
Holding space for these beliefs can be difficult, particularly when you aren’t made aware of what that belief actually is.
That was the issue facing Redditor and ORiginal Poster (OP) DisplacedChef when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for purposely giving alcohol to Mormons?”
OP began with his credentials and some background.
“I (31 Male) am a classically-trained French chef.”
“I have spent the last 11 years training and cooking in restaurants in France and am an American citizen.”
“I met my wife (26 Female) 5 years ago when she was on vacation in France, we fell in love and she lived with me in France.”
“When we decided wanted to start a family, she expressed a desire to move back to her hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah in the USA so we can be closer to her family.”
“We have made the move as of last week.”
“When we made the official move into our house, moving in some furniture from France and some bought furniture states side, we had a bunch of neighbors come out and help us.”
“What was expected to take 4 or 5 hours of moving in and arranging and putting away ended up taking 2 hours as suddenly 15 people came over to help, with snacks and drinks and advice about the home and neighbourhood.”
“I was so grateful and surprised at this kindness, so I offered to cook them all a grand meal 3 days later.”
“Some turned the offer down because of their kids or schedule, others because ‘Helping neighbors move in is just the Mormon thing to do.”‘
“I ended up cooking a 4-course French dinner for 3 other couples.”
“They all absolutely loved my entree of Gigot qui Pleure with a pan sauce, some even asking for seconds of it.”
“I ended up making copies of the recipe for them as a final thank you since they loved it so much.”
Everything was fine, until…
“When I gave them the recipes they looked absolutely shocked, they didn’t realize the pan sauce had red wine in it and they are not allowed to consume alcohol because they are Mormons.”
“They ended up getting very angry at me, saying I am trying to corrupt them with alcohol and that I should respect other people’s beliefs and dietary restrictions.”
“My wife is very upset and feels like I ruined our first chance at making friends in our new neighborhood.”
Outside opinions were inconclusive.
“People I have talked to about this have been very split about if I am an a**hole or not.”
“Some say I should have studied up on Mormon dietary restrictions and modified my recipes to match.”
“While others have said that as the people with the dietary restrictions, they should have mentioned them well before the preparation of the meal to make sure those restrictions are met, just like someone with an allergy would mention it.”
OP was left to wonder,
“So people of Reddit, which side are you on? AITA?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for some more opinions.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some responses put the responsibility on the guests.
“NTA, it’s always the responsibility of the person with a dietary restriction to ensure their food meets that requirement.”
“Also, it’s f*cking French food.”
“It’s basically seared wine in a wine reduction with a side of braised wine and wine consume paired with champagne.”
“Oh and don’t forget the wine for dipping. “~ Malphael
“Ex-Mormon here(though admittedly Midwest Mormon not Utah) and they are just being incredibly over-dramatic.”
“Plenty of Mormons(even Utah ones) cook using wine and beer.”
“It add flavor to dishes and it’s technically not against the rules to use it as an ingredient as long as most(not necessarily all) of the alcohol cooks down.”
“If you can’t get drunk on it it isn’t a sin. They are just being dramatic a**holes. NTA OP.” ~ Xariah_Rose13
Others gave personal insights.
“Hey, I was raised Mormon and I was always told that when the Bible says wine, what they mean is grape juice.”
“Which is incorrect, but that’s a common Mormon line.”
“The Mormon rules against booze are also sometimes attributed to the founder’s (original) wife, Emma Smith, objecting about men being slobs when they drank.”
“My ex-Mormon self says that the Word of Wisdom is based on a fad diet from the mid-1800s.”
“Of note: it was originally treated like a set of suggestions from God for living a healthy life, when it was first written out.”
“It was much later that the Church decided to make adherence to it mandatory.” ~ QuiltySkullsYay
“Not raised Mormon but a different fundie no-alcohol denomination.”
“since you seem to be curious their excuse was that there’s some verse that Jesus says we’ll do this when we’re together again so you shouldn’t drink until Jesus returns and says it’s ok.”
“For real, that’s their thought of it. 🤷♀️” ~ justcupcake
Commenters requested more information.
“This does not excuse the behavior of the neighbors (they are still the ones in the wrong for accusing him of malicious behavior, and not just excusing it and consulting their bishop on what to do now 😂)…”
“But Salt Lake City is just SOOOOO mormon, the mormons take for granted that everyone just knows everything about being Mormon.”
“And not drinking alcohol is like, THE most commonly known thing about Mormons.”
“OP doesn’t say anything about this, but unless he used wine they brought with them, he would have had to go to a special state liquor store to buy wine…”
“Like there’s no way to exist in Utah and not realize that there are special rules and restrictions around alcohol.”
“I don’t blame him, being as new as he is…”
“But also, the Mormon prohibition on alcohol is based on a prohibition of being in an ‘altered state’, which is why caffeine (and caffeinated soda) is not allowed either.”
“Based on the quantity of wine left in each portion that was eaten, I would say it wouldn’t be enough to leave the guests in an altered state and therefore would not be a breach of their faith.”
“Details though.” ~ OrindaSarnia
Some former Mormons even commented.
“NTA as a former Mormon this is a regional thing specific to Utah Mormons, everywhere else members of the church accept that cooking removes the harmful component of alcohol and have no problem eating it.”
“Technically, vinegar counts as ‘strong drink’ because it’s fermented, but you won’t see them having a problem with using it.” ~ OsaWyld
“Seconding, also as a former Mormon.”
“There’s really no set church rule either way.”
“It’s down to regional common practice and tbh personal preference.”
“You didn’t do it maliciously so ethically you’re in the clear.”
“However, I lived in Utah for a time and just FYI OP, be prepared for quick and angry judgements a lot for really benign things.”
“That neighborliness comes with a steep price, so I wouldn’t advise getting used to it. I wouldn’t move back there if my life depended on it. But yeah, NTA.” ~ murphyslawsuit
“Former Mormon, my Sister-in-law was scandalized when she saw me making creme brulee French toast and realized I was using liqueur.”
“I told her that it was just 2 tsp, so exactly the same amount of alcohol it would have if I made it with vanilla instead of the liqueur as they had the same percentage of alcohol.”
“She was surprised to learn that flavor extracts are usually about 35% alcohol.” ~ acemerrill
OP did return with answers to some common questions.
“Why didn’t your wife tell you?”
“My wife does know about the restrictions, but she struggles to put things together.”
“They just don’t click for her.”
“While I can ask her everything about anything and she can give me a detailed and precise answer, she won’t connect it to our day-to-day life. I don’t blame her for this.”
“Doesn’t the alcohol burn away while cooking? Not all of it technically. On average in a pan sauce, .25% to <.1% remains. Not much, but still something.”
“Why didn’t you ask about dietary restrictions?”
“That isn’t as common overseas. It is on the individual to inform. I gave them 3 days to inform me of any dietary restrictions or allergies.”
“Why didn’t you study the religion before moving there?”
“I didn’t study anything about France before moving there. I like learning things on the spot and having an adventure with them, this particular time it bit me in the a*s.
“I am also not from France. I am from Seattle and moved to France at 18 to wash dishes in some restaurants. I spent my entire adult life in Europe though.”
Holding space for the beliefs of others is an important step toward inclusivity and a more understanding community.
However, communication is fundamental and if a need isn’t expressed it cannot be accounted for.