um . . . Comfort Foods
December 28, 2018 9:49 PM   Subscribe

Good run-down of southern funeral eating, but it also needs Kate Campbell's "Funeral Food."
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:30 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have promised my mother (84) and my aunt (87) that there will be a cocktail bar for their funerals.

When their mother (my grandmother) was buried, there was a three-course sit-down meal in three sittings for the mourners.

So we will have the cocktail bar at the church after the service, then the graveside burial, and a very extended lunch at the excellent restaurant near the cemetery. If the restaurant can't do lunch, the funeral gets delayed.

posted by Barbara Spitzer at 11:16 PM on December 28, 2018 [6 favorites]

This is a beautiful idea, and probably better than eating the dead.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:27 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I didn't know that people could not have plenty food (and drink) at funerals/wakes. This explains a lot.
In my family, we often feel sorry for those families who don't manage to put up a proper wake. And guilty. Maybe we could have helped them or something.
We usually have something delivered for the first part, where there may be hundreds of people. And then we have planned something simple to prepare for those who stay on, mostly the family but also probably some close friends. There are no special traditional dishes, but there must be enough and more and it's good if it fits with red wine. Red wine goes well with tears and laughter.
posted by mumimor at 3:04 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well he was an ugly guy. With an ugly face.
An also ran in the human race.
And even God got sad just looking at him. And at his funeral
all his friends stood around looking said. But they were really
thinking of all the ham and cheese sandwiches in the next room.

- Laurie Anderson, “Gravity’s Angel
posted by mykescipark at 4:58 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

"Let me say how sorry I am," the baker said, putting his elbows on the table. "God alone knows how sorry. [...] I'm sorry for your son, and sorry for my part in this," the baker said. He spread his palms. "I don't have any children myself, so I can only imagine what you must be feeling. All I can say to you now is that I'm sorry. [...]" the baker said.

It was warm inside the bakery. Howard stood up from the table and took off his coat. He helped Ann from her coat. The baker looked at them for a minute and then nodded and got up from the table. He went to the oven and turned off some switches. He found cups and poured coffee from and electric coffee-maker. He put a carton of cream on the table, and a bowl of sugar.

"You probably need to eat something," the baker said. "I hope you'll eat some of my hot rolls. You have to eat and keep going. Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this," he said.

He served them warm cinnamon rolls just out of the oven, the icing still runny. He put butter on the table and knives to spread the butter. Then the baker sat down at the table with them. He waited. He waited until they each took a roll from the platter and began to eat. "It's good to eat something," he said, watching them. "There's more. Eat up. Eat all you want. There's all the rolls in the world in here."
Raymond Carver, "A Small, Good Thing"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:10 AM on December 29, 2018 [14 favorites]

Thanks for this.

Interesting article, and I think it's made me decide to have a funeral if I die.

That said, I'm wondering if it's a bit on the nose to do a spit roast as I'm cremated.
posted by pompomtom at 5:22 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]

I want to have the farewell feast before I die. Then at the funeral they get bitter wormwood and gall.
posted by Segundus at 5:34 AM on December 29, 2018 [5 favorites]

That said, I'm wondering if it's a bit on the nose to do a spit roast as I'm cremated.

Might as well chuck in some jacket spuds if you've already got the oven on.
posted by biffa at 6:13 AM on December 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

(poem inspired by this article, which I quite enjoyed)

Funeral Meats

I remember the terribly delicate spread
put on for the family by the Presbyterian Women
before my mother's funeral.

I remember the pink tablecloth and the linen

I remember hearing
my cousin arrive from another state
with my elderly aunt
and struggling to change her shoes
in the hallway before entering.

They had put us in a very small room
where there were no windows.
We were served
small mounds of chilled salads.
There might have been pimento cheese.
I could not eat.

(At some funerals
they will place food in the mourner's mouths
despite crying
and wanting to follow
instead of eat.
But we are too polite for that.)

I am in a small leaky boat.

The sea
is an upside down mirror.

- KH
posted by luaz at 9:34 AM on December 29, 2018 [5 favorites]

I thought that the photos are spectacular and remind me of some great Polaroid photographs from back in the 1970-80s with that super-saturated look. The photos were half the pleasure of this article.
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:55 AM on December 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

I’ve never eaten funeral potatoes, but the horrified reaction to them online disheartened me. There’s something sacred about a culture’s food, and death underscores that sanctity. Grief opens wounds so raw that I can think of nothing worse than judging something as private as what a person eats when they’re at their most vulnerable.

To me (and my corner of facebook) it was less judging someone's food and more judging the fact that Walmart was selling bulk containers of instant packets of this food for private and vulnerable times
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:13 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I loved this piece - thank you for sharing it!

At a viewing I went to a few years back, there was a large drink dispenser filled with "Margo's Lemonade" - a highly spiked lemonade. I thought it was so odd, but it stuck with me and was a lovely experience. People were chatting in small groups, spontaneous toasts were given and it was a a very Margo thing.

I also like the idea of giving away a (in my case, tiny) cookbook at the funeral. It's a hell of a lot more thoughtful than the prayer/memory cards that I have a (growing, ugh) stack of because I don't know what to do with them.
posted by kimberussell at 3:28 PM on December 29, 2018

In (parts of southern) China, the meal after a funeral is called 'tofu dinner', and tofu does seem to suit the somberness of the occasion remarkably well. Said tofu is usually featured in a type of soup thickened by starch called 'geng'.
posted by em at 7:15 PM on December 29, 2018

That was lovely, especially the photos. But it also immediately evoked an old Jewish joke for me:

Abe Nussbaum was on his death bed. The family had all gathered to say their last goodbyes. His daughter was sitting by his bed.

The old man stirs.

"Leah... is that your mother's kugel I smell?"

"Yes, father, it is."

"Ahhh... if I could have but one last piece of that wonderful kugel, I could die a happy man. Leah, please, go get me a piece."

"Of course, dad."

Leah goes off and and a minute later returns empty handed.

"Mom says the kugel is for the shivah."
posted by Mchelly at 4:25 AM on December 30, 2018 [7 favorites]

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