The tradition of bringing food to those who are grieving the death of a love-one is not specific to Tennessee or the South. It is a lovely expression of sympathy in the only tangible way that is available. When you bring a homemade dish to the home of the bereaved, it touches them in a way that is difficult to understand if you have not been the recipient of this type of comfort. In Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, we have made an art form out of this important part of our culture.
Most people have at least one church cookbook in their kitchen, and it is often the most used resource for recipes and general, everyday cooking. There is a reason for this: the very best cooks in the world are usually involved in the making of these cookbooks. These same women are famous for the food that seems to arrive out of thin air when someone dies.
How do you prepare for an effort like this in so little time? The women of Grace Baptist Church in Bristol are few in number, but they are quite skilled in putting together a nice meal as a gesture of love from the church. The secret, as Margie Tillison, President of the Women’s Missionary Union, will tell you is that everybody just brings a dish or two. No one person has to prepare a whole meal.
What to fix
A meal that they are preparing this week for a bereaved member is a good example of the type of fare that they usually bring. You can click on the menu items to find a recipe or instructions to make the dish.
- Mashed potatoes
- Green Beans
- Macaroni and cheese
- Cole Slaw
- Macaroni salad
- Deviled Eggs
- Barbecued Beans
- Cake for dessert
- Plastic utensils and Styrofoam plates are usually delivered with the meal.
Warm food prepared by caring friends feels like a hug when you are sorrowing. Even if you don’t feel like eating it right away, the care that went into the preparation and delivery is a soothing balm to a sad heart. I hope this Southern tradition never goes out of style.