Today I was cleaning out my bookcase and bundling up books to donate to the library. They hold a book sale on the first Monday of each month and sometimes I buy back my own books which I’ve forgotten I’ve already read.
I ran across a little book that I got a kick out of several years ago when I purchased it. Sitting cross legged on the floor I reread it and mourned a lost opportunity.
I’d been thinking for years about writing a book – a cookbook of sorts – about a genre of cuisine that should by all rights occupy a shelf of its own on the new food pyramid – let’s call it “Southern funeral food.”
You know what I mean – those rich, classic, comfort foods that hold well and can be taken from the frig or oven to the table with a minimum of fuss and lend themselves to being prepared in a tin pan that doesn’t need to be returned.
Well, low and behold someone beat me to it – and a Mississippian no less. The author is Gayden Metcalf and she is from the Mississippi Delta. Hey, Gayden, this was MY idea. Why did I procrastinate? I guess I feared it might be in bad taste or appear I was making fun of a truly sad occasion.
“Being Dead” is at once reverent, irreverent and wickedly humorous. It is a poignant and lighthearted reminder that death is the best time to cook something special and add a little joy to a dreary occasion.
Being from a household that routinely ate liver. hot dogs, and Spam (before cyberspace gave spam a whole new connotation), my early exposure to the culinary wonders of the world was escorted in by Kleenex, organ music, somber conversation and quiet platitudes of the dearly departed. To this day, organ music makes me yearn for pimento cheese.
I loved funeral food because in my 12-year old mind, that meant you could eat dessert first because no one is much interested in you anyway. Plus, you have decades to begin worrying about your blood sugar level. It meant you could have seven different kinds of potato salad, asparagus casseroles and fried chicken. It meant you didn’t have to put any Brussels sprouts on your plate or in your mouth. It introduced you to fried apple pies and green beans that were swimming in mushroom soup and awesome tiny fried onion rings that cooks rarely presented routinely to their families.
Funeral Food is rich and gooey – the ultimate comfort food when nothing can reduce the pain of your loss unless it is occupied by hugs, kisses and a plate of macaroni & cheese.
Funeral Food is the opportunity for friends to show their love and concern for the survivors and honor the deceased. To present a dish that demands explaining many times and generates many recipe requests is a badge of honor.
Funeral food is heaven on earth and figuratively brings you closer to your departed relative. How Divine! I only wish I had written it first.