My food thoughts are a bit morbid today. My Great Aunt passed away this weekend. She was 101. Her sister, my grandmother is now the oldest at 98 and one other sister is 95. My grandmother was giving me her informal list of what she wanted done: Cremated, Hawaiian music, scattered at lake…. but it did not include any food.
Most of my Southern food funeral experience has been making casseroles to deliver to the grieving family. I have found success with large pasta casseroles. Baked spaghetti and Zita seem to go over quite well. I wondered: Is there such a thing as high-end food at funerals? A part of me hopes not and from what I’ve been reading out of my morbid curiosity, no.
“There are no foodies at funerals” And from my experience with funerals, we are called home food wise. From the same article: “But the food served in your wake, or at it, knows better. It’s got you pegged, taxonomically. Oh, so you think that what you tried to be is what you are? You think that you actually became a writer, or a lawyer, or a titan of finance? Well, the food that comes when you’re cold says: Jew. Italian. Irishman. Southerner. Christian. White. Black. Chinese. Mexican. It calls you back to your tribe, man.”
From: The Eat Like a Man Blog: Esquire http://www.esquire.com/features/food-drink/huge-food/funeral-food-0311
How we celebrate life in death is also quite regional. How we are celebrating in Arkansas is not how they are celebrating in New York or how it is being celebrated in Louisiana. “There are certain expectations around a funeral,” says Andrea Watman of Zabar’s in Manhattan. “And in New York, the expectation is for bagels and nova. I don’t know why. It just is. At least 80 percent of the orders we get for funerals are for smoked fish. It must reach some essence in people’s souls, because it’s what provides comfort” (The Eat Like a Man Blog: Esquire).
I had never been to a Jewish funeral until last year and it wasn’t so much the memorial service that was so different, but the graveside was nothing like I had ever experienced. The small congregation worked hard filling the grave with dirt. I had never seen that. Comfort food was the only cure.
My father left no instructions for his funeral much less any expectations of feeding anyone. Having a service alone may have pissed him off. After the funeral, my husband and I ended up going with his golf group to a pizza place they always went to. Pizza and beer and memories.
So, if you find yourself in some funeral food quandary or just interested in reading, here are some articles I found: