an ode to southern food and a friend.


love is
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Tomorrow we're having a memorial luncheon for a dear friend. She was a native of the Mississippi Delta, so we're doing it right. Do you know about the Delta? Or about Deltans? There's an old one-liner about about the Delta: "it's rainin'! Let's have a party!" I first heard that one from my friend Rayner. I've known lots of Deltans, and I have lived in Mississippi, and for all of the region's flaws and its frequently deservedly bad reputation, there is a strong sense of hospitality and making the best of any situation, turning it into a joy-filled event, even if the circumstances are not joyous. I lived in Mississippi, and I'm a strong person, but I'm not a Delta girl. They're made of stronger stuff.

On the menu: Chicken Salad (with nuts), Vichyssoise, Tomato Aspic (my contribution), Cucumber Sandwiches, Fig Cake, Champagne (lots), wine (lots), and some beer. And lots more food that I can't even remember. And y'all, this is what I love. The luncheon is at our church. I'm so happy at such times (at all times, frankly, as I'm a convert) to be an Episcopalian- that we can enjoy our friend's memory, with libations, at church. Rayner was our crucifer for many many years- and she was an extraordinary caterer. Church, food, and wine were important to her. They are important to me.

My friend Rayner was such an encourager. She encouraged me to become active at our church. She encouraged me to really pursue pottery. We shared a love of McCarty Pottery. She was the epitome of hospitality. If someone was ill- she took food. If someone had a special occasion- she took food. She brought artichoke dip for all of my early pottery sales, and often stayed to help close down the first night- chatting up customers, pouring wine (for she was a Delta girl, after all), and buying a special piece or two to use in her catering business or for a friend or family member. She was a "doer." Not one to sit back.

I'm having a hard time with her death. I'm so glad that she's not struggling with cancer anymore. She fought hard for 3 years and outlasted 90% of esophageal cancer patients. But I miss her. I miss who she was before she was sick. I miss who she was in the midst of her sickness. But I'm happy to help honor her tomorrow in the ways that I can. I am a worker- she was a worker. I'm working through it. I'm celebrating her life and honoring her memory by helping to throw a party. If you have a little drink tomorrow, on Wednesday- of wine, tea, or even water, send up a little toast for my friend Rayner, will you? I will too.