Fascinating Facts about Food and Funerals

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Music – “Funeral Food” from Sing Me Out by Kate Campbell. Released: 2009

Food. It is omnipresent for growth and life, for nurturing the body and the soul. We feast at the occasion of births, christenings, birthdays, graduations, job promotions, marriages (and sometimes, divorces!), anniversaries, and finally, death.

Is this a funeral cake? (Photo Credit: www.x-weird.blogspot.com)

Is this a funeral cake? (Photo Credit: http://www.x-weird.blogspot.com)

 

If you’ve lived long enough (as I have), you will inevitably attend at least one funeral, or more. Funeral customs vary greatly from culture to culture and from country to country, but they all seem to have at least one thing in common (other than the obvious): food!

 

Food following a Muslim funeral (Photo Credit: www.people.opposingview.com)

Food following a Muslim funeral (Photo Credit: http://www.people.opposingview.com)

A funeral feast. (Photo Credit: www.moorviewgolfcentre-sheffield.co.uk)

A funeral feast. (Photo Credit: http://www.moorviewgolfcentre-sheffield.co.uk)

Now, this is a novel post-funeral feast! (Photo Credit: www.youtube.com)

Now, this is a novel post-funeral feast! (Photo Credit: http://www.youtube.com)

The ancient Egyptians were in the habit of leaving food and wine for the deceased, to ease the transition into the afterlife. In the Annex of King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, there were numerous food offerings including bread, meats, wine, grains and more.

Food, including beef, was found in the stack of containers in the Annex of King Tut's tomb. (Photo Credit: www.pixiophotography.wordpress.com)

Food, including beef, was found in the stack of containers in the Annex of King Tut’s tomb. (Photo Credit: http://www.pixiophotography.wordpress.com)

Some of the food and wine left with King Tut in his tomb (Photo Credit: www.kingtuttreasure.weebly.com)

Some of the food and wine left with King Tut in his tomb (Photo Credit: http://www.kingtuttreasure.weebly.com)

However, it seems that Tut wasn’t very hungry on his journey, as the food was left behind (as was Tut’s embalmed body). Numerous ancient burial sites around the world have been located and many food items have been found alongside the remains of the deceased. It seems that food is ubiquitous with death.

One of several customary "funeral" foods (Photo Credit: www.64degreesn.com)

One of several customary “funeral” foods (Photo Credit: http://www.64degreesn.com)

 

 

 

There are plenty of recipes out there for “Funeral Potatoes”, “Funeral Casseroles” (the standby), and “Funeral Pie”. I have a number of Amish, Pennsylvania Dutch and Mennonite cookbooks and all have a recipe for “Funeral Pie”. The traditional “Funeral Pie” is a raisin pie, or “Rosina Boi”, according to “Cooking Dutch with Caloric”, published in 1975.

One of several books on funeral food (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

One of several books on funeral food (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

Although not identified as such, this might be a "Funeral Pie". (photo Credit: www.likethedew.com)

Although not identified as such, this might be a “Funeral Pie”. (photo Credit: http://www.likethedew.com)

Direct and to the point. (Photo Credit: www.setxseniors.com)

Direct and to the point. (Photo Credit: http://www.setxseniors.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Funeral Sandwiches" (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

“Funeral Sandwiches” (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

But, what is “appropriate” funeral food? We usually think of kindly neighbours and friends inundating the grieving family with a myriad of Tupperware containers stuffed with casseroles, stews and soups and their arms weighed down with pies and cookies. When was the last time you attended a wake or a post-funeral reception and were served hot dogs, mac and cheese, or pizza? Well, that might depend on a) the budget, or b) the last wishes of the deceased. After all, the “taken out” can no longer enjoy the “take out”, but the relatives can!

This distraught lady is evidently fulfilling the deceased's last wishes (Photo Credit: www.nydailnews.com)

This distraught lady is evidently fulfilling the deceased’s last wishes (Photo Credit: http://www.nydailnews.com)

Tuvalu (Pacific) "feast platters" in honour of the deceased (Photo Credit: www.moanasailing.com)

Tuvalu (Pacific) “feast platters” in honour of the deceased (Photo Credit: http://www.moanasailing.com)

Wow. Oysters at a post-funeral reception! (Photo Credit: www.fabulouscatering.com.au)

Wow. Oysters at a post-funeral reception! (Photo Credit: http://www.fabulouscatering.com.au)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do we indulge in food around death ceremonies to sooth our souls or do we keep our mouths full so we are distracted and won’t have to deal with death? After all, it’s hard to cry and swallow at the same time.

 

 

A different kind of pizza for a funeral! (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

A different kind of pizza for a funeral! (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

 

Symbolic pizza, perhaps for a wake? (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

Symbolic pizza, perhaps for a wake? (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

Another lavish spread in honour of the deceased (Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

Another lavish spread in honour of the deceased (Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

This gentleman is apparently combining two careers: funeral director and caterer! (Photo Credit: www.blog.funeralone.com)

This gentleman is apparently combining two careers: funeral director and caterer! (Photo Credit: http://www.blog.funeralone.com)

Alcoholic beverages are frequently found at post-funeral meals and why not: alcohol numbs the senses somewhat. On the other hand, it is considered bad taste to imbibe excessively at a funeral wake.

 

 

Alcohol also tends to loosen one’s inhibitions and the last thing the grieving family needs is Cousin Joe blabbering about some unsavoury and sordid escapade he and the recently deceased engaged in during their wild and crazy youth.

How many plates you have at a post-funeral reception may depend on your relationship with the deceased (Photo Credit: www.ink361.com)

How many plates you have at a post-funeral reception may depend on your relationship with the deceased (Photo Credit: http://www.ink361.com)

If you don't know what "CC and ginger" is, you're most certainly NOT Canadian!

A thoughtful touch for the Canadian post-funeral wake.

 

 

Funeral receptions and wakes are big business now with caterers. From the simple to the lavish, the grieving family can customize their food selections to satisfy even the jaded funeral-goer.

Labeled as funeral fare, this looks more like afternoon tea! (Photo Credit: www.caresfuneralcaterers.co.uk)

Labeled as funeral fare, this looks more like afternoon tea! (Photo Credit: http://www.careysfuneralcaterers.co.uk)

Another lavish funeral spread (Photo Credit: www.saintgermaincatering.com)

Another lavish funeral spread (Photo Credit: http://www.saintgermaincatering.com)

Is this a wedding or a funeral reception? (Photo Credit: www.tallon-mortuary-specialists.com)

Is this a wedding or a funeral reception? (Photo Credit: http://www.tallon-mortuary-specialists.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word of advice: it is considered ill-mannered and gauche to take a doggy bag home from such a feast!

This lady looks like she could be preparing for a humdinger of a wake! (Photo Credit: www.sfweekly.com)

This lady looks like she could be preparing for a hum-dinger of a wake! (Photo Credit: http://www.sfweekly.com)

It is unknown if the deceased is still inside the limo! (Photo Credit: www.thechronicleherald.ca)

It is unknown if the deceased is still inside the limo! (Photo Credit: http://www.thechronicleherald.ca)

 

Yes, there is humour even in death (Photo Credit: www.juicylol.com)

Yes, there is humour even in death (Photo Credit: http://www.juicylol.com)

These people seem a little too happy at the memorial feast, if you ask me. (Photo Credit: www.dignitymemorial.com)

These people seem a little too happy at the memorial feast, if you ask me. (Photo Credit: http://www.dignitymemorial.com)

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo Credit: www.pinterest.com)

(Photo Credit: http://www.pinterest.com)

Some funeral directors have a great sense of humour. Here, a young man must be trying to choose between the chile or the banana! (Photo Credit: www.irishexaminer.com)

Some funeral directors have a great sense of humour. Here, a young man must be trying to choose between the chile or the banana! (Photo Credit: http://www.irishexaminer.com)


My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

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About vintagecookbookery

Cookbook lover and collector with a burgeoning collection of cookbooks. Reading and researching food trends, history of cooking techniques and technological advances in cooking, what we eat and why and cookbooks as reflectors of cultures is a fascination for me. As of November 7th, 2013, I hold the current Guinness World Record title for the largest collection of cookbooks: 2,970 at the official count on July 14th, 2013 (applaud now, thank you very much!) The current (unofficial) number is now 6,037. What next? More shelves!
This entry was posted in Comfort Food, Cookbooks, Cooking and Social History, Eating, Food Trends, Uncategorized, Vintage Cookbooks and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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