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.
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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 JacobsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved