A book review of “Recipes from the Grave, Wonderful Dishes for the Here and After” by P. Arden Corbin
By Kathy A. Megyeri
Two years ago during the pandemic, TikTok user Rosie Grant discovered how many people left recipes on their tombstones – a way for some to share their love through food even after they pass away. After spotting “Kay’s Fudge” followed by the words, “Wherever she goes, there’s laughter,” Grant started photographing the recipes and learning about the authors. Most were dessert recipes on women’s tombstones. Grant considers herself a “culinary archeologist” as she recreates the treats in her own kitchen. So far, she’s collected 22 recipes and finds it comforting that someone’s legacy might be their carrot cake recipe, so Grant started making and bringing snickerdoodles and guava cobbler to the graveyards to share with visitors and honor the cooks’ memories.
Grant’s passion for the project is obvious; one of her cemetery videos garnered over 7 million views. She now travels to cemeteries collecting recipes from gravestones. She never cooked before but now says, “I’m literally learning how to cook through the dead,” and wants her own tombstone to share a clam linguine or mac ‘n cheese recipe. “The two things we inevitably do in life are eat food and die someday,” Grant says, “so it’s a shared experience and to many, it brings back memories of their grandparents.” Her 195,000+ TikTok followers are begging her to compile a cookbook.
Writer P. Arden “Doc” Corbin has done just that in “Recipes from the Grave, Wonderful Dishes for the Here and After,” collecting over 100 recipes and including brief biographies about the contributor, cooking suggestions, measurement substitutions and tips for baking bread, pies and cakes. He includes Ann Landers’ meatloaf recipe, and a recipe by Ruth Corbin Graves called “How to Preserve a Husband.” “For a finished product, husband should be wrapped in a mantle of kindness, kept warm with the fire of devotion, and served with peaches and cream. Husbands prepared this way will keep for years.”
Corbin admits that most of these family recipes are probably 100 years old and were baked on stoves fueled by wood or coal or cow chips but “all are well crafted,” he says, “and all harken back to a time in America when the supper table was a place for the family to recharge, unwind, and enjoy each other’s company.” Grant and Corbin remind us of the importance of food in our lives, as food for the body, food for the soul, and as memories that bind us across generations.