In the South, food is always the answer. No matter the occasion—baby shower, bridal luncheon, birthday party, backyard cookout—the immediate question that follows an invitation is, “What can I bring?” Food is an expression of emotion: love, appreciation, celebration, sympathy. When a Southerner dies, mourners immediately assume their positions in the kitchen, preparing offerings of heartfelt condolence for the deceased’s family the best way they know how: cooking up comforting casseroles, funeral potatoes, and baked hams. When we’re a loss for words, feeding people is our traditional response.
So what’s the best dish to bring to a funeral? Offer a platter of classic Southern comfort: fried chicken. The ultimate finger food, fried chicken soothes any Southerner’s soul. You might have trouble finding an empty spot on the dining table when you arrive for the visitation, but room will always be made for this cure-all food. It can be eaten hot during the gathering or snacked on cold the next day (which, arguably, tastes even better).
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Mississippi etiquette experts Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays tout fried chicken as one of the top 10 foods to bring to a funeral, and cookbook author Perre Coleman Magness lists fried chicken as the number one in her Southern Sympathy Cookbook.
There’s special something about a seemingly ordinary piece of fried chicken. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a fond memory attached to the food, be it a favorite recipe or a loved one who made it; it’s a culinary tie that binds.
Fry a homemade batch or pick up a container from your favorite takeout spot—it doesn’t matter. You’ll offer comfort to those who are grieving with a smile and a crispy, golden-brown drumstick.