In Defense of Funeral Food

Sadly this week a close friend of mine had a death in the family. And as with most passings a string of social events unfolded throughout the week. And as with most social events there came a string of meals. 

I've always stated that I love a good funeral. If the person is truly missed the room is always filled with a palpable sadness mixed with laughter. Community is formed as strangers form a line to pay condolences and are forced to ask the question, “how did you know…?”. Followed by what can usually be described as “okay” food. Usually provided by the army of church ladies always on and ready to serve when duty calls. 

This week of mourning started with an immediate gathering at the home of the deceased. Where he once dined nightly with his family now lay home to a spread of fried chicken, country ham, green beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, coconut cake, pecan pie, and sweet tea. 

The surrounding attendants ranged from former Southern Belles holding grudges, to current Southern Debs still blurry eyed at the loss of a loved one. One person was missing their now departed coach. Another his golf partner. 

After a quick prayer and pass around the buffet stories began to unleash the bittersweet laughter that mixes so well with sadness to yet again create a memory of the person now gone. 

A second gathering happened. Same table. Same Belles. This time in varying shades of purple from eyeliner to hose. When black just won't do, purple reigns supreme. 

Another set of prayers. Another round at the buffet. 

This time cold cuts on silver dollar buns, a new potato salad, a relish tray only of bread and butter pickles, brownies, punch cake, more sweet tea, and homemade pillow mints that dissolved so fast you were elbowing loved ones to get more before they were gone. Aunt June only makes them on very special occasions. And this was one of them. 

This meal was the prelude to the actual funeral. Where even more gathered. I don't believe there was a dry eye in the house. And more than once the room was filled with laughter. The phrase, “let me tell you one more story…”, was quickly forgiven as everyone was hungry to keep the memory alive. 

Afterwards another round of food. This time a time honored Southern buffet of BBQ. I was unable to attend this portion but I imagine it was as heartwarming as the previous few days proved to be. 

One man brought together scores of people to feast again at his home in his absence. His children and grandchildren representing all that was great in him and his wife, whom I imagine he is with now. A great loss, I will confess over the course of three days I was moved by a man I had only met once. 

I will admit in my life I have spent a lot of money to enjoy great meals. But I will put cold cuts on silver dollar buns eaten off of a styrofoam plate while discussing the merits of a good pair of pantyhose with Aunt Ruby high on my list of great meals.