BEING DEAD IS NO EXCUSE: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral

Gayden Metcalfe, Author, Charlotte Hays, With . Miramax $19.95 (243p) ISBN 978-1-4013-5934-8

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. (Mar. 16)

Forecast: National media out of New York and a regional author tour through Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee should help this charming, entertaining book take off.

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4013-0574-1
Paperback - 263 pages - 978-1-4013-1283-1
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