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Oct 14, 2008 08:26 PM

Memorable Food & Funerals?

No connection with Halloween. I know that at a traditional Irish wake, the food is liquid. But the fondest memories of my grandfathers' and father's funerals was the great Russian food and, of course, copious amounts of vodka. Blini, stuffed cabbages, kolbasi, kapusta (saurkraut), rye bread to soak up the alcohol, and even caviar. What a way to go.

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  1. Sloppy Joe's are a staple at Jewish funerals in Northern NJ. Please remember to stick one into my coffin!

    8 Replies
    1. re: michele cindy

      That's a new one for me. On the west you have to have hard boiled eggs, and then either a dairy spread lox, whitefish, bagels etc, or deli meats with salads etc. A lot of sweets, as it is the custom to bring something sweet to the house of mourning.

      1. re: michele cindy

        Jewish funerals ain't what they used to be! Traditionally, round foods are served--like eggs, bagels, lentils. Fish is okay, but usually not meat or chicken.

        When my Grandpa passed away, a neighbor brought over a homemade chocolate cake. That's when the negotiations began. I asked my mom for a piece before she took it to my aunt's house for the Shiva. She said she couldn't cut into it and then bring it. I asked her to take me, she said no because I had school the next day. I asked her to bring a piece home for me. She said she couldn't take food out of the Shiva house. (I like to think Grandpa would have wanted me to have a piece of cake.)

        Many years later, I was at the Shiva of my 3rd cousin's FIL, a very beloved Orthodox rabbi. As I was leaving, she insisted that I take as much food as I could carry!

        1. re: Kate is always hungry

          I forgot about the fish and bagels, we do that too here. There's a version of the sloppy joe called a smoky joe which is made with white fish, carp, salmon etc. Really good stuff.

          1. re: michele cindy

            If you have a recipe I would like to try it out on my husband, I think he would like it. TIA

            1. re: paprkutr

              It's really not a recipe, but more of an assembly. It's from my memory, so it may not be that accurate... both use a specially cut rye bread, it's a rye cut down the length rather then the typical round slice. To do this with regular rye you would take 3 slices of pretty thin rye bread.
              choose any 1 or combo of the follwing
              turkey, pastrami, cornedbeef, tongue
              layer on bread, top with coleslaw
              top with bread, spread on russian dressing
              add next layer of meat, top with coleslaw
              serve with pickles and pickeled tomatoes. Never use cheese on them.
              Smoky same layered concept
              choose any smoked fish, (no bones) you like
              ie, lox, white fish, sable, carp,
              spread bread with cream cheese, or scallion cream cheese
              top with fish
              apply next layer of bread top cc and another fish
              top with rye. I think you can also use whitefish salad, baked salmon salad to on these.

          2. re: Kate is always hungry

            Round foods like bagels to symbolize the continuity of the circle of life. Eggs (I think) are also a symbol of rebirth and life (like Easter eggs and the hb eggs at the end of the first part of the Seder just before the meal, which are odd when you think about it because there's nothing about them in the Haggadah.

            1. re: Judith

              I was curious about this too, I searched and read that the egg and shank were both used together on the plate to symbolize the slaughtering of the paschal lamb, the 1st passover sacrifice.

          3. re: michele cindy

            For me, I want the empty bottle of the Taylor-Fladgate '48, that my family and friends have used to toast my demise. If St. Peter can't find the joke in that, then I am destined to an eternal hell. OK, if I have not withheld my carnal temptations, and have consumed that, let's go with the '70 Latour. Still, the empty bottle, not a full one, as my family and friends deserve the best for tolerating me for all these years.

            To the OP, even with an English/Irish, and a German/Jewish background, I don't recall a single food item, at any of the funerals. Even with regards to my wife's French/Italian New Orleans roots, nothing stands out. Wow, even my mom's funeral was a blurr. Seems that neighbors brought over food, but I haven't a clue as to what it was. Guess I am not the "good son."


          4. The auxillary ladies from three churches my sister,sister in law and step mom attend have some specialities to die for ,no pun intended.Various "meat" salad sandwiches on homemade crustless white bread,fruit salads no labor spared,meat balls from all over the world.GIN PUNCH.Things we don't have at home,but I sure do approve the "social"
            celebration of "LIFE".

            1. No alcohol at funerals/wakes in Eastern NC, but plenty of food. Casseroles, cakes, and a ham are the standards, but for me the most memorable was the box of paper plates/cups, plastic flatware, and soft drinks that the owner of the local grocery store gave when my grandfather died. That man never, ever gave anything away, so his generosity was a truly touching expression of how much he cared for my grandfather.

              1. It is going to be hard to beat the unexpected funeral luncheon for a young Filipina Chicagoan held at, of all places, Czerwone Jabluszko Polish Buffet. The older Lolos wrinkled their noses when they couldn't find soy sauce for the potstickers and then puckered their mouths when they found that they were filled with sauerkraut.

                1. At Italian funerals in my neck of the woods during the days preceding the funeral neighbors, relatives and friends visit the house of the grieving family and bring food for sustenance. These gifts of food usually continue for a time after the funeral as well.

                  During the breaks in the wake the family usually retires to their home with relatives and good friends where the meal is provided by the same family and friends..

                  After the burial all those attending at the cemetery are invited back to the home of the deceased where there is a buffet table loaded with antipasti, various pasta dishes, platters of Italian "cold cuts" and cheeses, baskets of breads and rolls, tossed salads, composed salads and dozens of platters of pastries and various Italian cookies. Wine, liquor and other beverages are available. Most of this is provided by those people who are close to the family.

                  It is indeed a Celebration of Life and very comforting.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    You described the luncheon after my grandmother's funeral to a "T". Fresh provolone, sopressata, mortadella, prosciutto, ham, roast beef, olives ....and I could go on and on. I know my grandmother would have loved that spread :)

                    1. re: krisrishere

                      Your Grandmother would have loved that spread, Kris, because that's what "they" were used to. If you cook it.... they will come. That's the Italian way. And, the way of may others as well....