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Food and Funerals


takomabaker
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Okay, first, I LOVE this forum but I've never posted. I love to read though. But I'm very interested to get opinions on this:

I've been in a 5-year relationship with a New Yorker from Queens. We currently live in D.C. My "father-in-law" passed away recently. It was very sad. The viewing and funeral was held in a Catholic funeral home in Queens. I was shocked to find out that not only was no food allowed in the funeral home, but the concept of bringing food to a funeral was quite shocking to my in-laws. Afterwards, there was a "luncheon" at a local Italian restaurant that was arranged in advance and paid for by the family.

I grew up attending funerals at the same Baptist Church adjacent to the same cemetery where 150 years of my family are buried. And there has always been food in a meeting room where, after the cemetery service, has served as a gathering area for a huge after-service feast. There was always a table full of great food. The staples were always pimiento cheese sandwiches on crustless white bread (cut into triangles), cold fried chicken, potato salad, macaroni salad, that funky salad with the citrus and marachino cherries and marshmallows and shredded coconut, deviled eggs, key lime or lemon meringue pie, and pitcher after pitcher of sweet tea. And there would always be optional items in addition that could include anything from BBQ to smoked mullet to biscuits with ham. But food was a REALLY big part of the entire grieving and comfort process, and the leftovers were carefully packed up and carried to the home of the immediate family.

My significant other was shocked at the idea of having a "potluck" after a funeral in the church. But to me, going to some restaurant and paying someone else to cook for the family and friends of the deceased is even weirder. I mean, providing the proper food at the proper event is a very strong tradition in my family. It shows you care more than any floral arrangement or card. The food was never fancy. It was usually eaten with disposable dinnerware and served out of ancient green or blue Tupperware containers set out on portable card tables with vinyl tablecloths. But it was what we did. I have not, honestly, attended a lot of funerals outside of my own family. Is the difference in tradition a North/South thing or is it more cultural than that?

Edited by takomabaker (log)
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There are a multitude of food and funeral related customs in my own community. In many churches, the women's guild often fixes a meal for the family, to be held in a large meeting room after the service. It gives people a chance to sit and visit without worrying about serving and cooking. In other churches, everyone goes to a designated relative's house and eats food provided by neighbors and friends. Sometimes these meals involve about everyone who attended the funeral, and sometimes they involve only family and very close friends.

I am Caucasian, and a close friend is African-American. When her father died a couple of years ago, I took food to her house, and she seemed quite surprised, but was still very gracious. And at the (Baptist) church for the funeral service, mine were the only flowers on the altar. Apparently, it's not a tradition within the African American community here (we were the only non-AA's at the funeral) to do either of those things. I believe there was a large gathering at the church after the service at the gravesite, which accommodated anyone who wanted to attend.

Years ago, my sister and I were of ...um, you could almost say "opposite" religions. She was not accepting at all of the church to which I belonged; and after a funeral for one of her friends at a church similar to mine, she was very upset because it wasn't at all what she expected. She found it very cold and impersonal. It was explained to me that although there are variations within denominations, the Catholic type churches, which would loosely include Episcopalians and Lutherans, tend to have much different services than do the Protestant churches, and customs involving food are often just as different.

If members of other religions are reading this, I think it would be fascinating to explore what happens in other faiths, if you are willing to share. I think there's as much variation from community to community as there is from denomination to denomination.

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Food, food, and more food. Ham and fried chicken and deviled eggs and pole beans cooked with fatback are the things that I remember most clearly (it's been a while since I've been back home to a funeral). Fresh tomatoes and melon if it's summer (but somehow it seems like my family members always pass in the winter). Pound cake and coconut cake.

All of it homemade.

Everybody drops by the house in the days before and after the funeral, and they're expected to eat.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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In my area of the country and within my group of family and friends, the funeral party usually decamps to the house of the family closest to the loved one after the services. This may be a regional thing, not really related to any particular denomination.

It sounds strange to some folks that the immediate family gets stuck with holding this typically large party. Actually, those most bereaved have to step up to the plate and soldier on. I think that starts the healing process. I have seen it happen.

Last year, a dear friend passed away, way too young. We were cooking buddies and she had many such buddies. We organised so that everyone brought that special recipe that she used to request for get togethers, or things we had cooked together. It was quite an international and eclectic menu but we had a great time remembering that special person and the warm hospitality her home always held for all of us. It was a great way to celebrate her life.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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We went back to Mississippi for my Dad's funeral last year, and it was like stepping right back into the good old shoes you always put on when you come home. There were hundreds of people trooping through the funeral home, making their way through a jungle of carnations and lilies; a gentle, sympathetic hug here, a big gruff bearhug there, old friends and parents of friends, people you had forgotten, and people you stared at in confusion, awaiting a cue as to who or where or when had made them a part of your longago past.

We stayed in the home of Dad's best friends, and there was a steady stream of visitors, bearing great bowls and platters of good old Southern cooking; after the first day, the house held at least one of every item Tupperware ever issued. Every lady in town and thereabouts came in with her special best recipe, presented whole and perfect on an outstretched palm, handed over with a little deprecating murmur of how it didn't turn out quite like usual, or how she had just lost her touch for poundcake.

Then, after the funeral, lunch at the local Baptist church, managed and coordinated by the same dear ladies who have "done" weddings and showers and baptism receptions and new-preacher welcomings for all the years of my life in that church. They were a little smaller, a little paler, but the bright smiles and the sweet welcomes took us back to our teens, when the same women, a little sterner in the presence of so much potential havoc, turned out hamburgers and hot dogs and four-layer puddings for all our gatherings.

The buffet was enormous...indeed, it was the rec-room's Ping-Pong table, covered in immaculate white, pressed into use for a group of such proportions. The food was placed around the outside of the table, yard after yard of fried chicken, succulent pink ham slices, homemade rolls and cornbread in all its varieties; bowls of collards and greens and snapbeans with tiny pearls of new potatoes; an immense basket of crisp okra wheels which must have taken the cook all morning to bread and fry; potatoes, fried and steamed and mashed and made into many varieties of potato salad--plates of it with slices of boiled egg christened with glowing dashes of paprika; bowls and platters and trays of it, all decorated with bell pepper slices and green onions cut JUST SO. One platter was "too pretty to eat" with its pile of salad crowned with a sunflower constructed of judicious piles of sieved yolk and white, all arranged with an artist's fingers.

The vegetables were of the out-of-my-freezer variety, with butterbeans and Crowder peas and blackeyes sporting a fan-cut slice of salt pork. Corn, both kernel and creamed, was offered in bowls and pans and the big black skillets it had been baked in. Baked beans varied from straight-from-the-Showboat-can to crusty long dishes of melting beans anointed with brown sugar and molasses and a sizzling lattice of bacon. Beans and potatoes; peas topped with the tiniest pods of tender okra; lettuce salads and fruit salads and many variations of five-cup;devilled eggs---there were at least six of the egghole platters on the table, each with its requisite center of stuffed celery and/or olives.

a big pot of pintos, with several pounds of ham cooked to a silky tenderness, just melting into the broth---a stack of bowls and spoons alongside; too many other homemade dishes to remember.

And the desserts were magnificent. Poundcakes and chocolate-frosted layers, rich yellow layers with a coat of 7-minute encrusted with snowy coconut, stacks of pancake-thin layers with their sheath of poured caramel. Tender, flaky piecrusts filled with cherries and peaches from their own trees, warm rhubarb and strawberries and blackberries peeking out from between sugar-strewn lattice, cobblers and crisps and dumps and brownies...with several bowls and pans of hot or cold banana pudding, meringue-laden or Kool-Whipped, take your choice.

We hugged and reminisced and laughed and ate. We got a little too loud for a funeral gathering, especially when my son was persuaded to tell my Dad's favorite story of the time my husband ran down a steep bank, frantically tossing away a lawn chair and his fishing rod, struggling valiantly to stay upright, then lost the fight and ran completely off into the lake, leaving only his floating hat to mark his spot.

Daddy loved that story; he loved those people and the good times and good food and good gatherings of all his eighty-three years. He liked nothing so much as a party where everyone laughed and talked and he could "fling good food amongst 'em." His last homecoming was just that. He would have LOVED that party.

Edited by racheld (log)
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...

The viewing and funeral was held in a Catholic funeral home in Queens. I was shocked to find out that not only was no food allowed in the funeral home, but the concept of bringing food to a funeral was quite shocking to my in-laws. Afterwards, there was a "luncheon" at a local Italian restaurant that was arranged in advance and paid for by the family.

...

Coming for an ethnic Catholic family in the Northeast, here's what is typical in my experience for a Catholic wake/funeral. There is a wake before the funeral and then a day or two later a funeral mass in church. Family and/or some others may then attend a little ceremony graveside or in a small building in the graveyard.

You’re right that people would not bring food to the actual funeral in the church or to the wake. (I don't know if this would be true for ethnic Italian or Irish; our family is Austrian). The food is for after the funeral. What happens afterwards depends on the number of family, friends, etc. that are still in the local community and their age.

When I was growing up it was more likely that children, grandchildren etc all lived nearby, (certainly in the same state). Then the usual thing would be a potluck type dinner with lots of food, usually held at a house other than that of the 'primary' mourner(s). Lot's of Catholic churches do have facilities attached to or underneath the church for holding church dinners, etc. I can't recall being to an after funeral get- together held there but it might happen; usually it was held at someone's house (which seems similar to a lot of the other stories on the thread). More recently when some older relatives, friends have died in that area, it is often the case that many of the closest and/or younger relatives who could organize something like this (like your SO) don't live in the same area or state anymore. And as we know, nowadays it is more common that some people don't cook or entertain as much. In some of those cases, it's easier to have a small get together at a local restaurant. The idea is the same; to share food, drink and stories with the people remaining.

Sometimes people may or may not have practiced a particular religion or maybe just one of the spouses, for example did. Or maybe they are getting cremated. Then there are less 'traditions' or signposts to follow as well, or it is more difficult to know ahead of time what the family might want to do. These are simply observations and not value judgments, but it is/was easier to maintain traditions that were easily followed within a particular religious/ethnic group and when generations of families lived close to one another. Thus the funeral celebration is likely to be different if celebrated in a little town where someone lived all their life, went to a particular church, etc as opposed to a situation where the grandparents moved to a condo down in Florida. It would be interesting to read the book Carolyn mentions above, I'm sure it delves into these things.

A big tradition in our circles (in CT) is to also bring some food to the primary household during this time, for them and for any visitors they might have. For example, the wife of one of my parent's neighbors just passed away and my mom brought some dessert squares down there a day or two after she passed away.

Anyway, I think a large factor in how it is handled is in how much of the surviving friends, family and community are in the area and involved. There are always differences between families, even of the same religion, but all the Catholic people I know/knew had nice food gathering afterwards, the size and extent varying according to some of the factors described above.

The specific food I remember when I was small (and still lived in CT!) would typically be large platters of delicious Austrian and German cold cuts and cured meats, cheeses, pickled herring, pickles, stuffed eggs, rye bread and lots of homemade salads, cookies and tortes.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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There are 2 issues here. Do you have food - and where do you have it if you do. I'm Jewish - and the customs are pretty much the same everywhere when you're dealing with observant Jews One would never bring or serve food at the synagogue or funeral home. After the funeral and burial (which are always held as quickly as possible) - the immediate family goes home and "sits shiva" (goes into mourning) for a week. They're not supposed to do anything - including cooking. So friends and family stop by all week - and they bring/order food to be served throughout the week (everything from large deli platters to a box of cookies).

By the way - it is normal for not so close friends to visit during the shiva - at least for a little while - the idea being that one of the purposes of the shiva is to help the mourners make the transition from grief back to a normal life. So if you have a Jewish friend who has a death in the family - do stop by on any day except Saturday - the Sabbath (after checking that the family is indeed having a traditional mourning period). And bring some food with you :smile:. Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
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  • 2 months later...

A Memphis friend sent an e-mail yesterday with the ad for a new book he thought I'd like: Being Dead Is No Excuse--The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. I sped off to Borders after lunch today, bearing in hand a nice Mothers' Day gift certificate, and bought me a copy. And laughed all the way home, reading bits and pieces to Hubby, who was driving as I read and giggled.

It's framed mainly in Greenville, MS, the official bottom-of-the-Delta in some circles, with Memphis being the apex. In that expanse of good Mississippi dirt, everyone knows that before you press your black dress, before you order floral tributes, you go put some rolls to rise or an aspic to set, or at least put a boiling of eggs on the stove.

But the Delta itself, place of my own birth and raising and that of my children, is a place unto itself, with more customs and mores and opinions and rules of etiquette and order and inborn knowledge of what's fittin' and what's trashy, than are found anywhere else on Earth--I doubt that even Buckingham Palace has rules about thigh meat in chicken salad.

And opinions there are. Of the neighbors, fellow church members, people who just happen to be looking when you get up to something, people who aren't looking but are gonna hear about it at their standing beauty shop appointment or in Piggly Wiggly, people who could care less about politics and world affairs, but who savor your indiscretion/misfortune/lapse of judgement with eager ears and lips pursed to taste and relish and pass it on as soon and with as much embellishment as possible.

And the opinions of the Good Church Ladies of small Southern towns rule and conquer and surpass all the might and majesty of any Crusader, any king or emperor or Pope who ever put fanny to throne. Small towns have mayors and aldermen and city councils and church boards and all manner of governing bodies, but the rules are made and enforced by the women who staff the church committees and the civic clubs and the garden clubs and the DOC/DAR branches, dealing out luncheons and teas and cocktail parties and meet-the-Preacher dinners with aplomb and ease. A small-town Eastern Star alone could rule nations, and put on a mean afternoon reception in the bargain. They decide the fate of the world, then go home and tell it to their husbands, their children, and any hapless household staff and neighbor within reach.

The entire concept of the book is built around giving Unca Morris or O-Man Holliman or Aint Margaret Ursoola the best sendoff the family and community can muster. And the funeral feasts which "make" the day---great founderings of soup-laden casseroles, aspics, devilled eggs, pound cakes---all named for the originator of the recipe (or the woman whose kitchen she worked in 12-hours-a-day, then went home to feed her own family) are the centerpiece of the book, with recipes and origins and little cautionary tales of people who claimed the recipe falsely or altered it by adding this and that, just ruining it beyond recognition.

I KNOW these people---every one of them. I went to school with them, to church with them, was related to or friends with EVERY character related in this book. Not literally; characters vary, places change, but Good Church Ladies remain the same throughout the Delta, and I was raised by and acquainted with a goodly number, God Bless 'Em. (And, come to think of it, served quite a stint as as GCL myself, though my rule-making and world-changing was limited to keeping a dozen Cub Scouts in line every Thursday at 3).

And these zany descriptions of funerals and families and mishaps and drunken revels and eating eating eating are done with a sure hand, a witty, deft touch which makes me want to streak right through all in one sitting. The recipes look mighty tasty, as well.

I think I'm gonna like this book. I'll go back and read now. And maybe put on some eggs to boil.

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I have a unique perspective...I am a Jew born and raised below the Mason Dixon AND I have Catholic family who own and opperate a funeral home.

The above post was correct regarding paying a shiva call. I would add that, if the family observe the dietary laws of kashrut, one should make certain that any food you take to the house is certified kosher and still wrapped in its original packaging.

As for Catholic services, I've seen many variations on the post-funeral luncheon. When my great-uncle John died, his only child, a nun, had everyone to a smorgasbord restaurant. When my dad (Catholic) died, any get together would be too large for any one home -- I have a huge family -- so we rented out a large hall and had it catered, then I sat shive and had a minion at my home.

Funny, the things one remembers. When my grandmother, who raised me, died, the only food I remember from the whole ordeal was the daughter of my grandmother's best friend brough a car full of groceries -- big cans of Folger's coffee, coffee cakes, creamer, tea, juice. I remember thinking to myself -- "Why of course, I'm going to need coffee to serve to all these people. Why didn't I think of that?" So now, when someone dies, I take groceries.

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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I think the food, relatives, assorted mourners, etc., don't vary that much. But it does seem like the place does. We're southerners, Catholic. And while I obviously can't speak for the families of every single Catholic that ever died, I can share my personal experiences.

As soon as the loved one passes (and I mean that day), the food starts arriving at the home of the bereaved. People stop by to share memories, and to eat. Then off to the funeral home or church. But I cannot recall food ever being served there. People seem to want to have the service, say a few words, sing a few songs, bury the dear departed, and get out of there. Back at the home of the closest relative, after the service, it's food, food and more food. It isn't a formal thing, like the Jewish tradition, but the immediate family is usually too sad, tired, grieving, worn out, exhausted to do much. The rest of the family, friends, neighbors, relatives busy around and take care of everything. Including leaving everything spic and span before departing.

When I've gone to funerals of friends, and after the service we go into the 'fellowship hall,' or down into the church basement, or wherever, I am uncomfortable. It feels impersonal. Cold. Commercial. All clean lines and sharp corners. Linoleum floors and fake ficuses. Folding chairs that scrape and clang. Shaky, ugly collapsible banquet tables and paper tablecloths and styrofoam cups and plastic forks. It still smells like the last group that was there. Was it a wedding? Somebody else's funeral? The latest fundraiser, white elephant or bake sale? Industrial strength cleansers? Bug spray? I don't want to be there. I want to go back to someone's warm, comfy and cozy home. I want to sink down into the soft, reassuring welcome of their sofa. I want to kick off my shoes and feel their carpeting against my bare feet. I want to see the familiar portraits of their lives on the walls and touch their coats in the closets. I want to inhale the aura and essence and aroma of the family that lives there, now sadly minus one.

I guess it's all in how you're raised.

And that's what comforts.

Truly.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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All these tales remind me why, as a child and teen, I hated small town living so much I couldn't wait to get outta there.

And why I now miss it.

Rural Illinois, wonderful homemade food in the home. More likely, nowadays, in the church or hall. Not so wonderful as before.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Rural New York, Protestant. When word gets around the village that someone died, the parade of casseroles and cakes and pies begins to the home of the bereaved. Rarely, the donors stop for a chat. More likely, the socializing is done a the funeral home, and the church supper after the funeral.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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i think it may also be a county/city thing. i grew up in on a small island in new york state and remember food being brought to the house when someone died. we also did the wake(after funeral party) at home - usually cold cut platters and all the extra food people had brought. on the thread mahew man mentioned uppost i talked about my mom's that was held in the Legion Hall and we cooked many of her favorites (yes, stuffed eggs - no mustard) and others brought foods as well.

now when johnnybird's grandmother died last year the funeral meal was catered by Subway :shock:

i second racheld's suggestion of Being Dead is No Excuse. our library bought it, it was laugh out loud funny and had some good recipes - including 5 different ones for pimento cheese :biggrin:

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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I've ordered a copy of Being Dead is No Excuse from Amazon.com -- I mean, who can resist a book with five -- count 'em, FIVE -- recipes for pimento cheese. Having been raised in the South, I'm fond of pimento cheese -- my grandmother's had beer and chives in it. Yum.

My mother is very ill and nearing the end of her journey. I can't say it hasn't crossed my mind that I wish I didn't have to go through the ordeal of the funeral. All those people -- many of whom I moved North to get away from -- all saying wholly hypocritical things which, out of propriety, I cannot call them on. (How I shall long to ask Uncle Jim "You haven't spoken to her in 35 years. What the hell are you doing here?")

My only consolation is knowing that somewhere along the line I'll share some delicious food with some people who do mean a lot to me and we will all get to laugh at the audacity of Uncle Jim and comment on the youth and vigor of Cousin Floyd's new wife.

I think, when the time comes, I shall make some pimento cheese myself. Just in case no one thinks of it. One wouldn't want to fine one's self in bereavement without benefit of pimento cheese. I will not, however, make all five recipes. Asking mourners to participate in a taste test is definitely out of the realm of propriety.

It just occurred to me -- no one here has commented on the benefits to the berieved obtained through large doses of Ritz crackers!

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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Ritz crackers are the third food group---after piminna cheese and Wonder Bread.

And a Fourth, by the time you get all that butter mixed in for casserole toppings and crusts.

Not to mention as an excellent substitute for those annoyingly healthy apples in apple pie. :cool:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I have that recipe. From Home Ec class in high school. It's one of my blushing memories, in that I made lemon chiffon (cue Knox theme music here) and my best friend made a two-crust beauty, filled with the above Ritz and lemon juice and cream of tartar, if I remember correctly.

Mine was pretty, with nice swoops of the spatula across the top, and little paper-thin twisties of lemon slices arranged JUST SO.

Hers was a gorgeous creation, a perfectly crimped, stunningly burnished golden brown, cooling in all its crusty perfection. She had made it from the skin in, cutting flour and Crisco, carefully rolling and lifting and cutting and doing those difficult finger-crimps. It was a marvel of piedom, remembered as the paragon of pies, partly because of its great beauty and tantalizing fragrance, and mainly because I practically destroyed it with one touch.

The crust was just the crispest, tenderest, flakiest of all time, with little separations evident just from the crimped edges. But there was one little thinner-than-paper, almost-transparent bubble of air trapped between two of the layers, and my finger just reached OUT, for the most gossamer touch, and there appeared a hole the size and importance of a moon crater.

I must have been alone, or at least not the center of attention when it happened, but I reached out to that one little irresistible poof of air, secluded under its phyllo-thin roof, and I had RUINED HER PIE. I slunk away, joined several other groups in admiring their efforts, received kudos for my own, and did not return to that fatal pie zone til it had been cut and was being enjoyed by quite a large crowd. I tried to blend in, and must have, because I mentioned it for the first time last year, and she did not remember a thing about it. That's a GOOD friend.

I've never made one since, nor have I wanted to...I just have the notebook, with its Jello salads and caramel apples and my lemon chiffon, but I cannot bear to look at that page for Mock Apple Pie. I was such a wuss. :rolleyes:

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as a "PK" I could tell food & funeral stories to you fr/ now until we run out of all the pimento cheese sammiches in South Georgia. I well remember the "telephone tree" that always seemed to begin at the parsonage. The Rev would call mother fr/ the hospital w/ the news and she would start calling ladies in the church. There was always one little old lady in the congregation who seemed to know before even the Rev (& he was at the hospital w/ the family!) that so & so had passed (or "met his maker", "gone to his reward", "is at the Pearly Gates", "wears a robe & crown", "gone to be w/ Jesus", "left us", "departed for a much, much better place", "now sits at the right hand", "dines w/ the Lord", "is enjoying his time w/ __________[choose another recently departed relative or close friend]", or a myriad of other euphemisms for having died.

There was always a "funeral casserole" or some such in the freezer or barring that you knew that what ever you were planning to have for dinner was about to go out the front door and down the street to the "dearly departed's" family. Food always went to the immediate family as soon as the news was heard and then the day of the funeral there was a gathering of any one and every one at the church "fellow ship hall" for a covered dish dinner that could feed half the community three times over. There was always a discussion at the church about how not only do we miss the dearly departed but it "just is not the same w/o her [casserole or cake or pie or what ever it was for which she was famous]". (I remember at my great aunt's funeral one of the cousins mentioned that we needed some "Aunt Dell Cake" to which the lady in charge of putting things together at the church said, "Honey, I thought about making it but knew I could not stand the comparisons")

Things have changed a lot but there is still some thing about a small town funeral. Every thing comes to a stop. The police make a big deal of directing traffic but there really is no need as there is no traffic to direct---every one in town is in the funeral procession except for the few who could not leave their place of business and they are standing respectfully out front of their respective stores as the procession passes.

The fact that people actually refuse to pull over to the side of the road or attempt to pass or cut in to a funeral procession is just further proof of the decline of Western Civilization.

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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  • 2 weeks later...

another good essay on this is in Queen of the Tyurtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena by Julia Reed. It's called "Tender Mercies" and examines funeral food - her mama's favorite to take to the families of the sick or dead were whole tenderloins that would cook quickly and cook be served hot, cold or warm. she also laments the sad lack of community now a days when her aunt in Nashville died and they got only one layered salad and two platters of fried chicken - and those came from the store :shock:

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Reading these posts about Southern funerals brings back so many memories. My dad has some kin (closest are second cousins) living in a small town about an hour from here. Seems that every funeral we ever went to in that town was always in August and the heat index was usually at least 100 degrees. Anyhow, for years it was the custom of the local "Co-cola" bottling plant to send to the home of the deceased a metal tub of Cokes in ice---the kind of tubs you'd see in gas stations, general stores, etc. throughout the South. The tubs are rectangular, perched on four skinny metal legs. The Cokes would be in short green glass bottles. The plant would arrange for the cold Cokes to be on hand for the big feed on the day of the funeral and then they'd come pick up the tub the next day. Several years ago, some of us went to the funeral of the reigning matriarch and the post-burial lunch, consisting of food provided by church ladies, was served in the church's fellowship hall instead of a home. Alas, I didn't see the familiar Coke tub and our drinks were served in paper cups.

About 18 months ago my dad's mom passed away at the age of 104....had been living here in a nursing home for 5 years. During that time, her house sat empty except for when visiting uncles/aunts stayed there. Grandmother had no surviving contemporaries and was barely acquainted with only a few neighbors; consequently, no one brought food to her house when she died. Most of us at her funeral were family, many from out of town who had flown/driven long distances. So instead of the traditional spread of casseroles, salads, luscious desserts (things that Grandmother had provided for others over the years), we munched on trays of cold cuts, veggies, cheese/crackers purchased from a grocery store.....hardly the traditional Southern funeral feast.

My church (2,000+ members) has a funeral committee and on this committee is a sub-group of ladies who see to it that the "food needs" of the deceased's family are taken care of. Some families receive plenty of food from friends/neighbors and therefore don't require the services of the funeral food committee. But in a case such as that of my Grandmother (who didn't belong to my church) this committee would have seen to it that an old-time spread was provided for the family and any guests...either at a home or in our church fellowship hall.

CBHall

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Well unfortunately I was not able to go to my dad's funeral last July. He died in June and was cremated immediately. The delay in the ritual - and it was a ritual was due to the availability of

traditional Native dancers who in the summer are on the competition circuit. When a date was finally

arranged that day food was prepared of traditional fare by Oneidas from the reservation. They made an enormous quantity of food and set a place for my dad for his last meal before his spirit

went above. Chanting and fanning tobacco for his journey they were to wait for an eagle to appear

to signal his leaving and on the journey. Oddly enough an eagle sat in a tree above watching the

whole proceedings and flew away when the dances/chants were over. There was another funeral

that day and they took the leftovers as they did not have much money for lots of food of their

own, my dad would have liked that. I have the proceedings in pictures and it is quite interesting.

While it seems odd to many that I could not attend mostly due to logistics my dad would not have

wanted me to fly all that way then drive another 9 hours to attend rather to come later on and visit

with my mom as scheduled for later in the fall. a hui ho..........

"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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