My best friend Rosemary was planning a small quiet memorial service on the one year anniversary of her mother-in-law’s Te’s passing. For the family and friends who couldn’t attend the funeral service a year earlier, it was the perfect way to include them in a memorial service.
Te’ loved to entertain and was always at the ready with a pantry full of ingredients. Her gatherings were festive events, tables overflowing with horderves, crudites, champagne, caviar and the highlight her menu, oyster stew. “Come and have this beautiful, beautiful food”, Te’ would call out.
Rosemary planned to host the memorial in her home and after reviewing several catering companies decided the only true way to honor Te’ was to serve her beautiful beautiful food, oyster stew and all.
I thought it was a great idea and later borrowed it myself. Growing up in an Italian family there were many dishes I could call “Beautiful Food”. The one that stood out in my mind was the occasional Saturday evening meal of semolina bread, provolone cheese, assorted olives, hard salami, pickled pigs feet (as a kid I ate what was put in front of me) and wine. While it’s not unusual to serve these foods as appetizers as I often do, (minus the pickled pig’s feet) it’s the memories I hold so dear.
I’ve taken the use of food as a suggested element during a memorial at sea. I recommend tossing a loved one’s favorite food, candy or beverage overboard along with the customary flowers or flower petals. Since anything that is thrown into the ocean must be biodegradable, food is an acceptable selection. Upon my suggestion, one of my recent clients took it to a whole new level by having the young children in the family bake large cookies. Each child then decorated the cookie in honor of their grandmother and cast them into the water. The thought of these youngsters engaging in their grandmother’s service in such a meaningful way is so heartfelt. I can envision the several grandchildren standing side by side as they threw their personal cookie over the rail.
If throwing food overboard doesn’t appeal to you or the possibility that sea gulls will quickly ascend upon you, then toasting with wine or champagne is acceptable as well.
Always check with your captain, but do feel free to be imaginative and honor your loved one in a way that’s significant and expressive to you.