Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Saving the Soul at a Southern Funeral
I have often opined about southern funerals. They are an event like no other. You learn the truth about the deceased - the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, if you want the scoop attend the visitation. That is where the scuttlebutt comes out whether or not there is an open bar. Now, you may have to hang out on the back porch or seek that group in the kitchen but there will be tales of the 'loved one' who has gone on.
The funeral will be a whole 'nuther story. Whereas the evening before when you were paying respects to the family and you heard about his dalliances with the ladies, his love of the bottle, and his penchant for the ponies suddenly the deceased has an unabashed love for his family, God, and country. He was a faithful member of the church although the minister mispronounced his name. He was a family man but few fail to notice the line of ladies, more upset than others, sitting on the back row. In short hopefully any errant ways of his earthly life are erased by the creative eulogy and his pathway to heaven is paved through this last final rite. Talk about being saved by the bell!
But down here probably the most important component of the southern funeral is the food. It is the trays, dishes, and platters of food, representing, what some consider, the four southern comfort foods: pimento cheese sandwiches (large platters stacked high), potato salad (several different kinds -mind you there is still the great debate onions or not?), platters of mouth watering fried chicken, then the endless table of homemade desserts (each the pride of the baker).
Your status in the community is judged by the number of meat dishes brought as compared to salads or bread. And, if anyone is keeping score, there are major points deducted for anything that is still in the deli container. All this matters. Go to a funeral and peruse the table, if there is only a plate or two of ham amongst bowls and bowls of salads, it does not speak well for the deceased, bless his heart.
Even though you are there mourning the passing of a loved one, friend, or kin folk, most likely from some health issue, a southern funeral is no place for the mention of diets, health food, or weight. If nothing else a funeral is as good excuse as any for a good meal. When was the last time you went to a funeral and were fed yogurt, tofu, and banana chips?