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Weird chowhound post, but need to send food to friend whose father died, need suggestions

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She's not Jewish, so it's not a shiva house, but I thought it would be nice to send something good to eat instead of flowers. But I went to the Zabar's site and the baskets for some reason seemed inappropriate, not sure why. Straight food might be inappropriate, too. Does anyone have any nice suggestions of something to send as a gesture of sympathy?

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  1. Maybe a full prepared meal? I'm not sure why "straight food" would be inappropriate - one of the nicest things that anyone sent us when my dad died last summer, in amongst a lot of beautiful flowers, was a box of perfect peaches!

    Whatever you send will be appreciated, I'm sure, as long as it's not packaged in a way that says "celebrate!" or congratulations!"

    1. Do you remember where the perfect peaches came from? It might be the wrong season, but if I can find a really great fruit seller, I would like to do something like that. I don't think Harry and David is that great.

      1 Reply
      1. re: vvv03

        Sadly, I don't. It was a peach grower I'd never heard of before, in Alabalma or Mississippi - the person who sent them was a friend of my sister's, who lived in Knoxville at the time.

        This time of year, maybe you could find a good citrus grower?

      2. I would think that the Zabar's basket of rugelach would be perfect. It's something that they can put out when people call.

        Harry & David has wonderful fruit baskets.

        Otherwise, I'd google a bakery in their area and send over cookies or something.

        1. Check zingermans.com for their various gift baskets. At the least it will give you some ideas. They have a sourcream coffee cake that might be appropriate.

          Actually, my first thought was sending a ham. A Virginia ham perhaps? Or a Spanish ham (or meats from La Tienda.com)?

          There's brisket or pastrami from Katz's. Or babka and smoked fish from Russ&Daughters.

          There are jams, mustards and crackers from Stonewall Kitchens.

          There were several gift basket threads from the past. I'm sure many will offer relevant suggestions.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pupster

            I second zingermans.com They have a bereavement package and it is always well received.

          2. I agree with all of Pupster's comments. My brother died a few years ago and a friend sent a huge assortment from the 2nd Ave. Deli (now closed... but you prob. already knew that). My family loved it and it fed many family and friends for days and days.

            1. Deli items and fruit would be most appreciated. When my grandfather died, the best gift we got was a big fruit basket. Being in the South, of course, we were up to our eyeballs in casseroles, so it was nice to have something fresh and good, not to mention pretty to look at.

              1. Call The Orchard in Brooklyn - it's on Coney Island Ave. Best upscale fruit market in the city. And they will send stuff.

                1. This summer when an uncle passed away, the widow's brother sent an Omaha steaks pack with a variety of items, including stuffed sole and petite filets. On the night after everyone had gone home except for close family, these made a for a wonderful & quick family meal. It was a welcome break from the piles of deli platters and fruit trays we'd been picking from all day. It was easily supplemented by leftover potato salad and a quick green salad.
                  Maybe you could get something a little more "prepared" from Zabar's like stuffed pork chops or something like that?

                  1. When my Dad passed away, a dear friend sent a box of beef sandwich fixins from Portillos in Chicago. It would not have occurred to me to suggest this unless I myself (and my family) had actually been pleased to receive this while in mourning. I think it was the "Deluxe Package" and there was nothing inappropriate in/on the packaging or accompanying materials (I mean, nothing like "Party Time" type sentiments or anything).
                    The sandwiches were SO GOOD. Not effortless, though. There is a not insignificant amount of heating and assembly involved - we didn't mind at all, but just so you know.

                    1. When my mom passed away in NJ, some friends of mine in CA looked online to find an Italian restaurant near her house (where I was staying with my brother and Dad). They had a huge lasagna delivered to us. It was wonderful.

                      Some other CA friends of mine sent a box of veggies from Diamond Organics. That was very generous, but it was not as convenient because I had to cook the veggies.

                      When my dad died, some friends sent fruit from Harry & David's and others sent muffins from Mrs. Beasley's. Having been on the receiving end, I think food is much more welcome than flowers.

                      1. Having been the recipient of "funeral food" recently, I realized that what would have been really helpful was breakfast food. Whoda thought? Aside from that (or being there to bring over a meal of amazing enchiladas, with advance notice of course) the most helpful stuff was food items that could be frozen. You can't control what everybody else is bringing, and you don't want to create more work for the family. If it is something that could be put aside for later or tossed in the freezer, that is the most helpful. In any event, your efforts will be appreciated.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Betty

                          When my dad passed away, a friend sent a basket from Wolferman's.
                          http://www.wolfermans.com/ It had a bunch of English muffins and jams. It was very much appreciated because you just didn't really want to think much in the morning. The basket was huge and it easy to freeze what we didn't eat.

                        2. Three food gifts we received stand out in my mind from times like these...

                          One was a bunch of spices the giver got from Amish country. Unusual, yes, but very thoughtful and much appreciated. She knew I enjoy cooking.

                          Another gave Italian beef and rolls. This was great as we were exhausted and busy and it was easy to heat & eat at any time. Also froze well.

                          One situation we were in left most of feeling too upset to eat and a friend brought over a beautiful relish tray with hummus & dip. The beauty of that was that we'd nibble even if we couldn't stomach the idea of sitting down to a meal. We got a little nourishment without noticing. It was very helpful.

                          I agree that anything you send that's not festively packaged should be just fine. Nice of you to do it.

                          1. How about some really good cheeses? I think that would be thoughtful, if they like cheese.

                            1. Fruit is a lovely idea and it is now clementine season. Perhaps clementines and chestnuts? I haven't been by Chelsea Market in a while but I wonder if the shop across from the fruit & veg market there (which I do not recommend) might not be able to assemble something appropriate? I can't remember what they are called but I think they focus on this sort of thing. (Alternatively, you could always put together a gift basket with these or other elements yourself).

                              1. Lots of great ideas above. I will reiterate something that's mentioned in several posts: foodstuffs are *very* gratefully received. What will probably be most appreciated is something that does not require much preparation, whether it's a fruit basket, cold cuts, or a whole entree (the lasagne was a great idea.)

                                The idea should be to provide something sustaining that doesn't involve work - dealing with a death can be pretty overwhelming, not just because of the loss but because there's a lot of *stuff* you may have to do in a very short time, and it's hard to get motivated enough to prepare meals.

                                1. Something simple you make yourself seems right.

                                  When the wife of a dear friend died, I put 2 whole chickens in a pot with 2 onions stuck with cloves, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 2 teaspoons of rubbed sage and 2 bay leaves. I simmered it for 2 hours, took out the solids and let them cool while I reduced the liquid by about a third.

                                  I pulled off the meat, discarded the skin, bones, cloves and bay leaves and chopped the veggies. After overnight refrigeration, I took the fat off the liquid and added the rest.

                                  He was too down to cook for himself, and said this sustained him through the worst.