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Dead Man’s Food

I was recently having dinner with a friend whose husband died a few years ago. She was telling me about all the food that was dropped off during the two weeks following his death. The sea of casseroles, desserts and fried chicken just kept coming, and surprisingly, on the bottom of the dishes they arrived in was the recipe for the whatever was being dropped off. Dead Man’s Food Recipes. It could be a book no? The Dead Man’s Food Recipe Book. Not so much.

“Are you kidding me? They gave you the recipe with the food?”

“Yep. Usually hand written on a piece of stationery. One night about a week after he died, my brother in law asked if we could possibly go out for dinner instead of eating ‘dead man’s food’ another night. We had to laugh. Each of the women also brought me a little envelope of pills and explained to me about taking them. It was a regular pharmacy.”

I decided to ignore the pill thing and just deal with the recipes. “Maybe they were just making sure you knew who to return the plate or dish to without asking for it. Tape the recipe on the bottom of the plate and you would know who the plate really belonged to.”

She just looked at me.

I am still thinking about it. When I was around seven or eight, I got the stomach flu after eating cinnamon toast. I never ate cinnamon toast again, and I loved cinanamon toast. Loved it. I would assume that the same thing would be true after eating dead man’s food. Who would possibly want to ever taste that particular dish again, let alone enter it into the hall of fame recipe drawer where you put favorite recipes that are usually associated with wonderful ‘food’ memories. I have those kind of recipes. My Aunt Molly’s Apple Cake that she used to bring me when she visited me at school. Years later I made her spend months looking for the recipe because I just needed to make it for my daughter. Or, my grandmother’s Christmas Cookies that are pecan balls. Those are the recipes you put on your stationery. Not dead man’s food. But believe me, no judgement here.

I’m sure it’s a Texas tradition thing (she was living in Texas when her husband died). Get a grip people. Drop off food, for sure, but use a paper plate or throw away tupperware to send it in, and please, leave the recipe at home. But, no judgement here.

One reply on “Dead Man’s Food”

Grandma made an apple sauce cake that was amazing. I had the recipe and used to always make it when I was married but somehow during one of my moves I lost a notebook with a ton of recipes. It still makes me sad that don’t have it – it was fantastic. I begged mom and Aunt Nancy to look for it – both have – but no luck. Also when we were kids at the coffee shop on Main Street in Hyannis I would always eat there blueberry muffins when grandma did not make them. Once the recipe was published in Bon Appetite from the exact restaurant – and for years I happily made them. That recipe too was lost. Have tried numerous times to recreate both but no luck.

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