Food for Summer Gatherings

Traditionally, at a funeral, you will want to serve pasta dishes, casseroles, and other items that reheat well. You will also need kid-friendly food, like chicken nuggets or mac and cheese. Potatoes are “always a hit,” according to funeral home administrators, who also advise that including some of the deceased’s favorite dishes can be a great way to personalize the reception. Remember that much is misremembered and that often we know people less well than we think, so what comprises “favorite foods” may not be discoverable. If it is a funeral for a very young victim, a child whose bare foot, sticking out from under a sheet while sleeping was as tender as risen bread dough, then—

If the shooting was anti-Semitic or took place at a synagogue, the meal of consolation will likely include hard-boiled eggs and perhaps lentils. Unlike most beans, lentils have no eye and are symbolic of the deceased no longer being seen.

If a mosque was the target, those gathered may eat Halvah, a sweet dessert made from honey, flour, pine nuts, and almonds or dates. There may be lamb or rice or mansaf, but the cuisine of each Muslim country is different in its staples and delicacies.

If the shooting took place during a prayer service at a historically black church or a Christian church service in a small town, serve comfort food – whatever that means to you. Serve an abundance in an effort to be benevolent. That word emerged from a word that means “to wish.” Even though a benevolence in the 1400s was a forced contribution to the British crown, now it means a disposition to do good.

If the shooting tried to target people of one ethnicity, country of origin, or race, you could serve ipecac, an emetic, that may help get rid of what seeps into us and makes us sick. Castor oil can be served in shot glasses. Reportedly, it has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial qualities. It can also cause dizziness nausea, stomach cramps, or diarrhea, but perhaps you already suffer from those symptoms. If the shooting was indiscriminate, at a large music festival, for instance, these same items may be served.

If the shooter was targeting very young school children, or high school students, or middle school students including a girl who did not respond to his unwanted advances, or college students, search for an impossible balm or salve and serve that. Remember not to ask anything of the parents or families or teachers or colleagues of the dead.

If your summer gathering is in Dayton, OH; El Paso, TX; Gilroy, CA; Brooklyn, NY; or Southaven, MS, you will need to think about the weather, especially if most of the town or city residents are going to attend the services. If it’s very hot – and it likely is, because July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on earth, and CO2 has hit 415 parts per million, a higher concentration than ever before in history – you must make sure to bring out many small dishes and set them on beds of ice. You may be tempted to lay out enormous platters for the crowd, but large trays of food, meant to last, can heat up and can sicken mourners. The hospitals are very busy already. If some mourners cannot come to your summer gathering because they are in intensive care, bear in mind that the massive traumatic injuries, whether caused by AR-15s or cars or stab wounds, will severely restrict their diets, as well as affect their mental health for decades to come, so it is not advisable to send them wrapped plates of funeral food.

If you are at a press conference, expect to be fed some canned noise. Pack Dramamine, salt, or pickled ginger if the phrases “lack of political will,” “thoughts and prayers” or “unpopular” make you woozy.

If your summer gathering is at a school where children are waiting for parents detained by ICE, bring pizza, fruit, cookies, cold drinks, blankets, stuffed animals, extra clothes, and articles of clothing from their parents’ closets, if you can access them. They might like to have something that smells like their parents. You will need to also provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the kids for the foreseeable future, possibly until they are adults.

If you are at a political picnic like Fancy Farm, you will enjoy barbecue, including lamb, pork and chicken. If you are a teenager, you may want to eat something you can hold in one hand, like a sub sandwich, so the other is free to choke a cardboard cutout of a congresswoman or hold up a cardboard cutout of the face of Neil Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh. If you are going to wear a fur hat to indicate that you think Mitch McConnell, who keeps blocking election security bills (along with Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith) is a Russian asset, bring a large water bottle filled with ice water, because you’re going to overheat. FYI, The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that election systems in the following states were targeted by Russia in 2016:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

If your summer gathering is far from home and arranged suddenly, like say if you are one of these 11 Oregon state senators:

Herman Baertschiger Jr.

Brian Boquist

Fred Girod

Alan Olsen

Chuck Thomsen

Dallas Heard

Dennis Linthicum

Tim Knopp

Cliff Bentz

Kim Thatcher

Bill Hansell

who ran away from the Oregon state house and holed up in Idaho so there would not be a quorum needed to vote on a climate change bill* likely to pass by the Democratic supermajority, you all should enjoy some Idaho potatoes together while you’re on the lam in your mountain hideaway. You can spear them on the end of the assault rifles your militia friends have and cook them over a campfire. If your mouth tastes like ashes, well, there’s really nothing anyone can do.

* “The climate bill would place a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and require companies to buy permits to pollute. The number of permits would eventually decline and become more expensive, giving companies an incentive to invest in pollution-control equipment.” – Idaho Statesman, John Sowell, June 21, 2019


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