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Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral
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Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  1,491 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
Folks in the Delta have a strong sense of community, and being dead is no impediment to belonging to it. Down South, they don't forget you when you've up and died--in fact, they visit you more often. But there are quintessential rules and rituals for kicking the bucket tastefully. Having a flawless funeral is one of them.

In this deliciously entertaining slice of Southern l
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 16th 2005 by Miramax (first published 2005)
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May 14, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it
Absolutely fun. Tongue in cheek to dynamic humor coupled with some great number of recipes. Honestly, I would buy this for the recipes alone. I especially laughed at the elite and highly desired state of having your own family cemetery. And within several other strong connecting factors of food, there are immense parallels between this Southern paradigm and my Sicilian one. Even down to the cemetery placement dynamic. But especially with the food. Variety, degrees of multiple ingredients and com ...more
Beth Hall
Sep 27, 2007 Beth Hall rated it it was amazing
I was laughing so hard at one point my husband thought there was something wrong with me--and I think actually came downstairs to investigate (shocking).

I think it was when I was reading this part (I'm paraphrasing slightly here):

Southern Episcopalians wear their devoutness lightly. Perhaps this is why they are so good at funerals. They know how to mix the casual and the formal, the proper and the relaxed (or perhaps the proper and the highly improper.) No where has this sensibility been better
Mar 12, 2014 Alexandra rated it it was amazing
I gave this book a five-star rating because it made me laugh until my stomach hurt. As the child of a Southern Methodist Mother who (despite her worldly travels) remained forever true to the power of a good Methodist casserole, the anecdotes were "family stories" told be an other. Having a Damn Episcopalian Yankee for a father provided the additional perspective on the way funerals and their surrounding rituals are done on both sides of the Mason - Dixon Line. My conclusion aligns with the autho ...more
Aug 31, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nf-other
This is a delightfully hilarious book that is exactly what the title says, complete with delicious recipes appropriate for taking to the home of the bereaved, wakes, or funeral receptions. The voice is pure Mississippi Delta, but anyone, especially if you're from the South, will recognize these people, traditions, and situations surrounding one of the most predictable of life's passages: death. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. The chapter on Episcopalians vs. Methodists was a scr ...more
Aug 22, 2008 Margaret rated it liked it
I never read so much about aspic (which, despite being Southern to my toes, I have never tried) or Campbell's cream of mushroom soup in my life. Which was kind of the point, I guess. This book is a mixture of funny essays about throwing a funeral in the Mississippi Delta town of Greenville, Mississippi, and recipes for "funeral foods." (Mississippi, by the way, is very fun to type) Some anecdotes had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks as I recognized familiar idiosyncracies - especially th ...more
Jun 11, 2009 Phogbound rated it really liked it
Being dead in The South has obligations for both the mourners and the dearly departed. The recentsly Bereaved are responsible for magically summoning food, drinks and compansionship for both the family and themselves. Sadly, it is a culture that is being lost as its accolytes pass on to their own Reward. It wasn't always that way and this book shows why.

Thankfully, this book lays down the basics illustrated by anecdotes and memories. Even better are the old recipes interspersed throughout with
Jul 02, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it
It is hard to know whether to shelve this book under Thanatology or Cooking or Humour. It purports to be "The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral." It delivers on that promise -- not only a hundred recipes for funeral dishes traditional to the Mississippi Delta but also advice on hymns, flowers, notes, and all those other social graces which sort one into the upper and lower classes. Who knew there was such a dish as Bing Cherry Salad made with Coca Cola? Who knew that ...more
Diana Petty-stone
Feb 01, 2017 Diana Petty-stone rated it it was amazing
Southern women, funerals and a lot of mouth watering recipes. A fun read!
Mar 04, 2017 Clare rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, humorous
The title of this book is what caught my attention. Half cookbook, half humorous commentary on how southern families and communities cope with a death, it was a nice change from the heavier subjects that constitute my usual fare. From the planning of the funeral to the preferred hymns to differences in thoughts on bereavement from several Christian denominations, this book covers it all with wit. I found myself laughing out loud a few times.

The recipes are those most often prepared for the griev
Feb 24, 2009 Melinda rated it really liked it
This book is a lighthearted read, bringing laughs and chuckles and remembrances of recipes all having to do with Southern funerals. The title indicates that "being dead is no excuse to have a poor funeral". So you should plan, be prepared, and make use of the tips and advice from these two Southern ladies. If you are from the Mississippi Delta area, or have family in the deep South, then you will find common ground laughing through chapters like "The Methodist Ladies vs. the Episcopal Ladies" an ...more
Leslie  Golden
May 17, 2014 Leslie Golden rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-and-re-read
Look, all of us who live in the South know the world perceives us as a bit "different." We have rules and codes of behavior for things the rest of the world ignores. But the fun comes when someone in the know,like Gayden Metcalfe explains those rules to the rest of the world and why making and breaking those rules can be a source of joy.

This book lightheartedly explains the South's great codification of and obsession with Death, a significant part of life below the Mason/Dixon. As tornadoes were
Mar 18, 2014 Dennis rated it really liked it
Shelves: so-gothic
I read this book as a research book for a play I'm writing. It was a surprise to learn it was a cookbook with spirited essays about the culture of southern delta funerals, centered in Greenville, MS. I knew about any true southerner's affection for the cocktail hour, the libation Olympics. They celebrate most anything and everything with a gusto not matched anywhere in the world, but I did not know about the casserole wars between the stalwart Episcopalians and the mild and meek Methodists, thou ...more
Rachel Terry
Jan 30, 2011 Rachel Terry rated it liked it
Shelves: food
I love etiquette books, and this one had such a unique angle. It's full of recipes, which I probably won't try because I don't like cream of mushroom soup, but I'm exceedingly curious about aspic--tomato juice, horseradish, and unflavored gelatin? Intriguing. Some of it reminded me of Texas, like when you say "pop" instead of "co-cola" and everyone laughs at you and calls you a Yankee. But mostly I liked the funny stories in this book. Like this: "In 1905, Joshua Ridgeway was shot and killed in ...more
Oct 29, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it
Memories of Southern Style funerals came flooding back except that we didn't have any plantations where I came from but many of her stories caused tears of laughter
To roll down my cheeks. My third cousin who was a lot older than me but as fun as she could be was always worried that another cousin might get her spot in the family cemetery and constantly talked all of the nerve if the other cousin who might precede her in death. The food descriptions are perfect and true recipes for " the Dead Sp
Jan 03, 2015 Annette rated it it was amazing
Loved this humorous take on funerals- Southern style.
I have been part of the "funeral biz" through my work for a few years so this hit home- especially the food, the hymn choices and the uniquely southern traditions to being buried in the South.

In the style of Fannie Flagg's take on southern traditions, this is a laugh out loud book.

A must read for any true southerner, or someone who wants to understand their culture.
Aug 19, 2009 Ashley rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Old, southern people
Thought this would be a lot funnier than it actually was. Was written very tongue-in-cheek but that got old after a chapter or two. Recipes were included after each section, but most sounded quite unappetizing and were pretty old-fashioned. The book as a whole smacked of old-fashionedness, as a matter of fact.

Didn't care for this one. And I'm from the south!
Jun 19, 2012 Erin rated it it was ok
Cute quick, slightly funny read. Really more recipes than humor though...
Jun 16, 2015 Myra rated it it was amazing
What a hoot!!! I haven't laughed that much in a long time.:-) Even the recipes are written with tongue in cheek:-)
Jun 12, 2017 Jennifer rated it liked it
Irreverent, written in tongue-in-cheek, this guide to the prefect Southern funeral will have some readers laughing. It just wasn't my cup of tea. I read the first 100 pages or so and skimmed the rest. The recipes are interesting, but there aren't many I'd personally care to try. Other people might enjoy it, but this just wasn't for me.
Louise Henry
Feb 26, 2017 Louise Henry rated it really liked it
Cindy Creed
Oct 22, 2016 Cindy Creed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
only in the South
Nov 16, 2016 KSS rated it it was amazing
Laughed and laughed
Jan 11, 2014 Kellyflower rated it liked it
This is a little guide to help you host the perfect funeral, from a Southern's Pov. Yes, it's written tongue in cheek.
There were several paragraphs I found my self nodding my head while reading. One paragraph went on talking about
"a Cocoa-Cola (pronounced "co-cola"), which in the South means any soft drink.."

Here's the Chapter titles:
Dying Tastefully in the Mississippi Delta
"“The last time somebody was cremated, his ashes were sprinkled from a crop duster. We all ran for cover. We liked him f
Jul 29, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it
I could almost give this one a two or 2.5. I liked it OK but not all THAT much. I probably wouldn't have gotten through the entire thing if it hadn't been a book club choice. Yes, it was cute/funny - which sort of equates with "cutesy" which means a little over the top cute, not really QUALITY cute. I guess it's quality cute up to a point but just goes on too long with very, very similar jokes and take-offs on "cutesy" sayings about dying, like "I coulda just died" or a number of others that kee ...more
Jun 22, 2011 Kara rated it liked it

In the book Daniel’s Story, the main character describes the horrors of WWII. He narrates how just a few years before the war, if a person died, the whole community mourned, but, as he describes his present situation (no spoilers, but hint, its bad) death was is common as to be unremarked.

That always stuck with me – death is an indicator of the health of the community.

When times are good a person is buried with full pomp and circumstance. When times are bad, bodies are buried in haste, if at al
Jan 16, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it
A Southern belle is capable of hostessing any function in a demure and lady-like demeanor and this includes the perfect funeral. This book's focus is mainly on the reception and food that are the focus after the service and these two gracious ladies are good enough to tell us all what is acceptable funeral fare and what is not. This is one of only three times that the good china and real silver make an appearance (the other two being weddings and christenings) and polishing the silver is conside ...more
Feb 19, 2008 Wallace rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any Southern cook with a sense of humor
Recommended to Wallace by: Jan Campbell
This book is hilarious IF you are a Southern cook - otherwise, it may be a little ho hum. Coming from a long line of small town Southern cooks, I have seen or eaten many of the dishes, and I am well-schooled in proper funeral etiquette (although I didn't realize I was so well-trained until I read it!). Basically, the book is a guide for hosting a good funeral, from food to flowers to music to receiving guests at the house. Of course, it is written with Southern charm and wit, and it pokes fun at ...more
Jul 30, 2015 Collin rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic, southern
Between this and Fried Green Tomatoes, I feel like I'm building an Iron Man suit of southernness for myself. I have no problem with this.

I've never actually been to a full funeral, but there's something about southern church culture (especially that long period in my life of going to a Methodist church) that makes it easy to predict. Everything about this rings true, albeit varnished over with good old country exaggeration.

Anyway, the book is cute. A lot of it is recipes (some of which I'm skept
Dec 30, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I'm one of those people who likes to read cookbooks, and this one is one of the best reads ever. (Which reminds me of some other cookbooks I need to reread and review, such as The Lake House Cookbook by Trudie Styler.) I'm not from the Mississippi Delta area, but have lived the small town Southern life ling enough to recognize everything these two ladies are talking about. The work behind the scenes of a funeral is both arduous and hilarious, and having been the "Dead Food Goddess" at my church ...more
Jun 08, 2010 Aaron rated it it was ok
A friend lent this to me after a discussion about similar foods that Midwesterners and Southerners bring to events (green jello molds with cottage cheese on a bed of lettuce).

The book reads like a number of newspaper or magazine columns stitched together; chapters usually start on one subject then suddenly transition to another. It's a little jarring, but, I realized that either these WERE old columns stitched together OR this could very well be how Southern ladies chat (I liked to read some par
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“The last time somebody was cremated, his ashes were sprinkled from a crop duster. We all ran for cover. We liked him fine, but we didn't want him all over our good clothes.” 2 likes
“The Episcopalian ideal of a gentleman is a man who, if a lady falls down drunk, will pick her up off the floor and freshen up her drink. You practically have to be on the list for your second liver transplant before a Southern Episcopalian notices that you drink too much.” 2 likes
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