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Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral Paperback – May 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; Reprint edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401312837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401312831
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Metcalfe, a lifelong Southerner who's been hiding out in the social circles of Greenville, Miss., exposes the culinary and cultural last rites of the deep South in a fashion that is as sidesplitting as it is politically incorrect, as sincere as it is backstabbingly brutal. She is capably aided by Hays, a "recovering gossip columnist" from Washington, D.C. Residents of the Mississippi Delta, where "polishing silver is the southern lady's version of grief therapy," take their comfort food semiseriously, be it traditional Pickled Shrimp, Liketa Died Potatoes (which incorporate both cheddar cheese and canned cheddar cheese soup) or cream cheese–laden Pecan Tassies. Nobody would be caught dead without Tomato Aspic at the funeral, and St. James' Cranberry Congealed Salad topped with mayonnaise is the dessert of choice. An entire chapter is devoted to stuffed eggs, and another is dedicated to dishes that use canned soup as their base ("Nothing whispers sympathy quite like a frozen-pea casserole with canned bean sprouts and mushroom soup"). A lengthy discourse on "The Methodist Ladies vs. the Episcopal Ladies" is laugh-out-loud funny in its contrast of customs and cuisines and its consideration of the consolation of a "nice, stiff cocktail." And many Greenville residents, alive and deceased, drop by for a howdy, including poor Maribell Wilson, who made the mistake of driving her daddy's ashes home with the windows down. B&w illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

There are too few words and phrases to adequately describe this unique devil-take-the-hindmost approach to cooking and end-of-life ceremonies. Tongue in cheek? Maybe. Laugh-out-loud narrative? Definitely. Plus, an extraordinary combination of ingredients (it is a cookbook, after all). We learn that a "glowing obituary is practically a birthright in the Delta"; that both artificial flowers and carnations at a funeral are definitely passe; and that two of the top-10 "hits" for a funeral ceremony are "Abide with Me" and "Amazing Grace." The lists--and detailed social customs--go on and on and on, including guidance on well-stocked pantry foodstuffs and eternal cocktails. One hundred or so (who's counting?) recipes ensure that no cuisine is omitted; a pineapple casserole nestles beside tomato aspic with mayonnaise. Pimiento cheese enhances the traditional crustless finger sandwiches and picked shrimp. In the end, the authors guarantee no one will ever be out of place at a south-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line funeral celebration. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Laugh our loud funny reading.
SollisArchitecture&Design
It is very funny if you have an acquaintance with the South and southern ladies.
shirley ybarra
It was fun and funny to read and thewith recipes were great.
Joan M. Ferrer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Forget Scarlet, Zelda, and Tallulah, they pale beside the ladies of the Mississippi Delta who are dedicated, determined, and (pun intended) dead set on seeing the dearly departed off in style.

"Being Dead Is No Excuse" is laugh out loud funny, true, and chock full of recipes for must-be-served dishes at after funeral receptions. Tomato aspic with homemade mayonnaise tops the list that includes Aunt Hebe's Coconut Cake and Virginia's Butterbeans. Those who doubt the import of a table groaning under countless casseroles will learn that "Nobody eats better than the bereaved Southerner. We celebrate weddings, christenings, birthdays, and just about every milestone in life with food. But every southerner knows that death cooking is our very best."

Now, it's not only the food, but it's also the presentation. For Southern ladies, polishing silver is a form of grief therapy thus the serving pieces will be immaculate. In addition, linens are required. "We do not want Mildred to go under with paper napkins."

Metcalfe forthrightly addresses the vanity often ascribed to Southern women by describing an older lady who passed away and wanted to be "laid out" as she looked during the happiest days of her life - when she was a waitress. Thanks to the craftsmanship of the local undertaker she appeared in her coffin in waitress uniform with ruby red lips and the same color hair.

Then there is Lavinia, the former wife of a philanderer. Not wishing to be outdone at his services, she made a Botox appointment, bought designer duds, and hired a King Air private jet which she directed to buzz the church. There wasn't anyone with ears who didn't know "someone" had arrived.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By John Sartoris on March 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"As I Lay Dying" with recipes and a lot more humor. This exploration of Southern funeral customs is not only funny, but it also confirms that the South is still different from the rest of the country and celebrates those differences. A southern funeral must follow certain forms and the mourners have to tell stories, have a laugh and eat well. You can read it for the description of the folkways and keep it on your shelf for the recipes.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By suzy on March 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked this so much I bought 5 extra for gifts! Recipes are wonderful and book is delightful! I've made several of the dishes in it & they are great.When people ask for a recipe that comes from this book, I just tell them "It's a gift from the dead"..and we all have a laugh...and then they go buy the book!I love it to just read too!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jirka on January 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
All my Yankee friends need a copy of this book! It is an insightful addition to my own whimsical library! If you live in the South it is a funny look at our strange funeral practices and if you don't live in the South it will give you a little insight on what we do and why we do it. It is a must read for any person North or South of the Mason-Dixon Line. Not only is it a fabulous read it has recipes also. Ok some are less than desirable eats but you will still find the delta ladies cook it with class and serve it on a silver platter. Yes, we still have good silver and we use it too, especially at a funeral. In the book they talk about Southern women polishing the silver when a death has happened and that is exactly as I remember it also. Buy it! Read it! Love it!
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence W. Prichard on May 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Being Dead is No Excuse" by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays is very funny, charming, and perhaps more accurate than some might like to admit.I admit it, I am a "Yankee," (Though to a true Northerner, a Yankee is from New England, and one who eats apple pie with sharp Cheddar cheese for breakfast!), but I am highly familiar with funerals and preparations for "a good send-off." Metcalfe and Hays have written a funny, touching book that has aspects (and aspics!) that are applicable anywhere in the United States.However, this otherwise excellent book has been marred by sloppy, sloppy editing, as is too common any more. One thing, the hymn is "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past," not "Oh God....." And some of the recipes, which are mostly Southern classics (and rightly so!) lack crucial information as to pan sizes, or yields. If you're not going to cook from this book, no problem, but many of the recipes are so appealing, that it is really unfortunate that they were not edited better.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. M. on September 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a book I will pick up again & again, anytime I want a laugh or a snicker. Gossipy stories about life in a small town & the best food to bring to the funeral reception! The recipes alone are worth the price of the book. Very, very funny anecdotes about death and dying in the glorious South. I assume the authors have now been ostrasized now that they dared reveal the foibles of their fellow citizens along with the treasured recipes. Just great, amusing reading!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Carpenter on September 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was fun to read in that it did a realistic comparison between the habits of bringing food to funerals in the south in that those of us who are from the south have actually eaten many of the foods described in the book. It is really part cookbook and part fun read, however, as much of the book is taken up with the recipes. After reading it, I passed it on to a friend who is from Nashville and who enjoys the southern culture and cooking. Enjoy it for a light read and a few laughs but know that it contains more recipes than anything else.
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