It doesn’t feel like a Thursday around here, chickens. It feels like a Friday which makes no sense whatsoever because then the blog would be EXTRA overdue. But there you go. (I blame post-conference letdown.)
Today my mother was baking funeral coffee cakes which are regular coffee cakes but these were destined for the family of a friend. Our pal’s grandfather–a lovely and elderly dairy farmer who worked one of the oldest farms in the country–died this week and my mother, in true Southern fashion, was baking up food to take. This got us to talking about what constitutes funeral food. (For the record, funeral food can be eaten before or after. It encompasses both the offerings left for the family before the service and the dishes served to guests afterwards.)
So here is our idiosyncratic and not at all official list of what makes good funeral food:
*Ham. Eaten cold, possibly on a plate, possibly in a biscuit. It’s the ultimate funeral food and no Southern funeral happens without one.
*Fried chicken. Also eaten cold. Fried chicken and ham are the only two permissible meats. Roast beef or smoked salmon? NOT DONE.
*Casseroles. Including and not limited to macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole (must be topped with canned fried onions), baked beans. If you want to really go out on a limb, you might have a lasagne.
*Salads. Never a green salad. For some reason, a green salad is just an abomination for funeral food. You need a HEAVY salad, something that ought to be ashamed to call itself a salad. Potato salad and macaroni salad are correct; coleslaw is not. I don’t know why. Any salad set with gelatin is acceptable. These will not be eaten but will end up serving as accidental centerpieces.
*Vegetables. These do not often appear on the funeral table, and if they do, they won’t be eaten.
*Baked goods of every description. Biscuits, coffee cakes, pies, cakes, bundt cakes. No cupcakes because those feel too festive, but handpies are acceptable. Coca-cola cake is a frequent offering–often because it was used to glaze the ham and the cook had some leftover. There might be homemade banana pudding with sliced bananas and vanilla wafers. People will say this is for the kids, but they will eat it all before the kids get a chance and the children will be palmed off with pizza rolls which the adults will not touch.
As you can probably tell, the key to good funeral food is CALORIES. You want to be comforted with butter, cream, sugar, and mayonnaise, and the more of it, the better.