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Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral Hardcover – March 16, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 320 customer reviews

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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.

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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax (March 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401359345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401359348
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By suzy on March 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Southern church musician, reared by a grandmother born in the late 1800's the details of the customs, societal expectations,family eccentricities and community fixtures are "dead on." (pun intended) The friendly(?) competition between churches and individuals illustrates the status-consciousness of the matrons in towns and small cities. The recipes remind me of the comfort food of my youth. And no one has more characters than South.

If you are from the South, you'll recognize the people and the ideology. If you're not from the South, this is a great introduction to our customs, cuisine and contrariness.
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Format: Hardcover
Southern life and death receive close inspection and a healthy dose of humor in Being Dead Is No Excuse; The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting The Perfect Funeral.. Traditional Southern recipes for casseroles, relishes, and 'funeral and wake food' dish up a healthy (or unhealthy, at times) dose of authentic Southern cooking and observation mixed with a pinch of humor. Plenty of social and cultural insights throughout.
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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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