By: Matthias Baudinet
This past winter break I had the chance to head out West. Being from France, I never have gotten the chance to travel in that region of the United States. For two weeks I was in the capital of the state of Utah–Salt Lake City. The city is surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains. The city lies in a valley between mountains, which means that you are always able to see the snow-capped, white mountains.
The reason for me visiting Utah is because my father recently moved to Utah for work purposes. Being a pastry chef, he was offered a top position at a world-famous hotel–the 5 Diamond Grand America Hotel. My father has worked in kitchens since he was a small boy. Son to a baker, he grew up around flour, bread, chocolate, and pastries. Its in his blood. As soon as he arrived at the Grand America everyone was instantly impressed with his skills and capabilities.
When I arrived in Salt Lake City I was immediately impressed by the friendliness of people and the overall cleanliness of the city. For a big city, Salt Lake was remarkably clean. The streets had barely any trash on the sides, the sidewalks looked brand-new, and there was very little graffiti. As stated above, the people were extremely friendly–almost too friendly. But, it did seem that their general kindness was genuine.
After spending some time in the city, going to restaurants, shops, cafes, and talking with local residents I became aware of the dominance of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Saints in the area (aka Mormons). Some people attributed the cleanliness and orderly nature of Salt Lake to the influence of the Mormon Church. After spending two weeks there I started to notice that almost everything was owned by a very influential and wealthy Mormon family. They owned libraries, hotels, restaurants, gas-stations, parks, businesses, and many other establishments in the city.
While in Salt Lake, I was astonished with the great diversity of the population. I went to Korean restaurants, Chinese restaurants, French restaurants, Bulgarian restaurants, Belgian restaurants, Vietnamese restaurants and so many more. Plus, all of these restaurants were owned by someone of the same nationality of the cuisine they were serving.
Utah is known to have to the “best snow on Earth.” That saying is even on their license plates. People have it on bumper stickers, and there are banners with those words everywhere around Salt Lake City. When I visited nearby Park City, I admired the beautiful slopes from a distance as I quit skiing years ago. For me, the best part of Salt Lake was that I got the great vibes and hospitality of a small town in a big American city. If you are a fan of clean streets and friendly people I highly recommend visiting Salt Lake City.