While I'll admit to being a bit of a foodie, I grew up in the South and my mom was from even deeper in the South and I do love good Southern cooking, even if it's not as fashionable as some other forms of cuisine.
A few years ago, a friend gave me Food to Die For: A Book of Funeral Food, Tips, and Tales,. Now, down here, South of that line drawn by Mr. Mason and Mr. Dixon, when someone dies, we start to cook. It's almost as if we believe that you can stave off any more deaths if you just prepare enough food. Food almost immediately gets taken over to the family of the deceased and more food (usually, lots more food) is prepared for after the funeral when family and friends gather together for comfort. So I've come to love this book not only for its hint of Goth mixed with Southern Lady, and for its historical discussions of funeral customs, but also for its recipes, which I use for many occasions other than funerals.
I pulled it out a few days ago looking for appetizer ("pick-up food," according to the book) recipes that I could use for Thanksgiving. Cucumber Sandwiches, Cheese Straws, Ham Biscuits, Deviled Eggs, five different recipes for Pimento Cheese (I adore this stuff; do they even make it outside the South?), Hot Tomato Bouillon. As the book explains:
The greater the extent offerings for a bereaved household or funeral reception can be prepared before presenting, the better. Completely ready food is an act of great thoughtfulness appreciated by those staffing unfamiliar kitchens crowded with people and all sorts and conditions of food. . . . It could be said that the more a funeral repast resembles a cocktail party -- with or without the alcohol -- the better.And the Goddess knows that if my own after-party does not resemble a rather nice cocktail party (avec the alcohol), my unquiet ghost is going to show up and want to know the reason why. My circle knows where the really good bottle of champagne is stowed.
I think I'm going to make ham biscuits, one of the simplest (make buttermilk biscuits, split them and butter the inside, fill with thinly-sliced Smithfield ham, serve with hot pepper jelly, if desired) and most delicious foods of the South, deviled eggs from a friend's recipe, and my own crab dip that, while not found in this recipe book is, indeed, to die for.
Picture (and another review of the book) found here.