Saturday, October 24, 2009

Starve A Cold, Feed A Funeral

I started writing this as a response to your well wishes in the comments section of yesterday's post, but decided I might just as well put it here. It's about food.

Smoked bacon, swiss chard, and onion quiche. Same as the little ones I made last Sunday.

I've always noticed how, in the US, when someone dies, there is all kinds of food. People bring the grieving family all manner of prepared dishes, an they're often home made. The food is for the family, of course, so they don't have to think about cooking or shopping during the hard first days after their loss. It helps the friends and other family members who provide the food feel like they're doing something helpful.

The food not only feeds the immediate family, but also the parade of mourners that stop by the house in those first few days.

The first thing I thought to do after hearing the shocking news that our friend had died was to make something to take to his companion. So I made a quiche on Friday morning and we took it and a baguette over to her at noon.

We've spent some time over there since Thursday, but so far I've seen no sign that this food-bringing is also a French custom. I guess I assumed that in a culture that emphasizes food as much as the French, I would see people bringing lots of food on their visits to the bereaved.

Maybe food will come after the funeral on Tuesday. I've seen that in French movies, at least.

It's weird to think of such things at a time like this, but as a foreigner I'm constantly observing, looking for clues about how to behave in every situation: what's expected, what not to say. Unfortunately, I won't be here for the services on Tuesday since I'm flying out that day to the US. I won't see first-hand how this all happens.

Ken will be here, however, and he plans to attend the funeral, so I'll get a full report.

I have noticed, however, that the wine, whiskey, and gin have been flowing quite freely. It calms the nerves. So I'm told.


  1. Hi Walt, In Europe it's not really common pratice to bring food to poeple who have lost a loved one, although it is appreciated. In most cases people are too upset to eat when this happens to them. Yet, I think it was very nice of you to do so, and I'm sure S. will appreciate it. A quiche is execellent comfort food, isn't it?

  2. don't forget the chrysanthemums!

  3. Walt, forget the local customs, just doing what seems right is the right thing to do.

  4. Um, calms the nerves....yes, that's it, it calms the nerves.

  5. martine, I think quiche is a good comfort food, and one can eat it hot or cold, and it's good leftovers!

    rachael, yes. And it is that time of year!

    jean, I agree.

    starman, yes. ;)

  6. I am so sad to hear that you've lost a friend. I'm sure his companion appreciates all of your kind gestures.

  7. I've often wanted to do the same thing, but my husband usually stops me and explains that it just isn't done. Still, a couple of casseroles would have been nice when my son was born... We did actually receive a lasagna from an anglo friend that Stéph ate during our long stay in the clinic and that was very much appreciated!!

  8. loulou, thanks. :)

    vivi, I guess we just do what we think we should. And like you said, even if it's not the custom, it's probably appreciated!

  9. Hi Walt,

    I think it's a very nice custom and it shows that people care and are thinking about the person/family who has lost their loved one...
    From what I've seen at the movies (at at my mom's memorial service) people bring food and it also serves to "break the sadness." Like people who are too sad to eat are suddenly presented with all kinds of food and that it also starts the social interaction when the air is thick with sadness and no one really knows what to say, except to give their sincerest sympathies and condolences... Food serves to bring people together in conversation... and it helps to get your mind of the sadness you are in, even if it's just for a short while...
    It's always appreciated... I really do think there are real reasons for customs - why they started... and that we do what we feel in our heart!
    Once again, I send my condolences to you for the loss of your friend and neighbour, to his companion, and his family and friends. I know it's shocking and difficult to lose someone.
    Though you won't be at the funeral/services, you will be there in spirit..
    Take care,

  10. How kind of you to make a homemade quiche. It looks lovely. Sorry about your friend's loss.


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