Friday, May 15, 2009
Froggie's Friday Book Review - "Being Dead is No Excuse"
Actually, "Being Dead is No Excuse" is not the complete title of the book reviewed here today. The entire title is "Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral." Written by Gayden Metcalfe, a lifelong Southerner from Greenville, Mississippi, and Charlotte Hays, the book is a humorous look at Southern culture and customs, beginning with Chapter 1, "Dying Tastefully in the Mississippi Delta." With an emphasis on preparing the perfect food to pull off a near perfect post-funeral send-off, each chapter of this book by Metcalfe and Hays blends a uniquely Southern recipe with charmingly comic advice for ensuring a memorable funeral reception. Numerous statements that may often cause the reader to laugh out loud are found throughout the book's pages, such as "Nothing whispers sympathy quite like a frozen-pea casserole with canned bean sprouts and mushroom soup."
Published by Hyperion Books in 2005, the book contains descriptions of local customs that are frequently laced with humor. One example is a discussion of the keen sense of competitiveness between Southern women of different faiths where funeral food preparation is concerned. These discussions leave the reader to wonder the answer to an inevitable question, such as, do the Episcopal ladies make better funeral food than the Methodist ladies?
While the book is a hilarious narrative that mixes Southern etiquette, political incorrectness, and down-home honesty, it is also worthy of adding to any one's recipe book collection. Its pages include some well-known Southern dishes such as fried chicken, a variety of congealed salads, the ever-popular deviled eggs, and a number of casseroles prepared with canned soup. One of the "soup casseroles" includes a particularly popular dish made with frozen potatoes and canned Cheddar Cheese soup, commonly known in Southern food circles as "Funeral Potatoes."
I purchased a signed copy of this book at my favorite Pentimento Books in Clinton, Mississippi, and I enjoyed it so much that I have since given copies as gifts to several friends who have roots in the Deep South. Two other books by Metcalfe and Hays that you may also enjoy are Some Day You'll Thank Me for This: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Being a "Perfect" Mother, and Somebody is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Hosting the Perfect Wedding.
I sincerely hope you enjoy reading "Being Dead is No Excuse...." as much as I did, and I wholeheartedly recommend adding this one-of-a-kind book to your own collection. But I must caveat my recommendation with this warning: You may laugh out loud so much that your ribs will be sore the next day - mine were!