Decoding the Covered Dish

Growing up an Alabamian, I have forever been intreged by the Covered Dish. Needless to say they show up so often that if anyone had a patent on them, he or she would be rolling in the dough! (Pun intended.)

There is a wonderful scene in the movie Life as We Know It that stars Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel who are godparents to a little girl of their friends. Right after the parents of the girl die, their neighbors in the Atlanta suburb bring over covered dishes to show comfort and support.

This is a classic example of how everything in the South is medicated with food. We celebrate with food, we console with food, we plan dates revolving around dinner (or “supper”), and we have supper clubs. (People have also got in fights over what kind of wedding cake to serve!) Needless to say, you can barely have more than 2 people over without a planned eating of some sorts.

While there is the new baby or just moved in senarios, most covered dishes revolve around some sad event when they are brought to one’s residence. For example, I can think back on all the times covered dishes were brought to my family’s home and none were joyous occasions:

  • My parents divorced.
  • My mom had a wreck and was on bedrest.
  • My grannie broke her hip and was in the hospital.
  • My papa died.
  • I was on bedrest for being pregnant.
. . . Sounds a little like a country song!

And if you live in the South you probably have experienced the same. Then there are events like “Christmas at Ma’s”, “Dinner on the Ground”, “After Church Singings”, “Supper Clubs” and more. When planning my high school reunion I even considered just asking everyone to bring a covered dish—seriously!

Maybe I would find this tradition a little less intreging if I could cook better (“I’ll bring the Sweet Tea! Is Milo’s OK?”) or if I were less picky. 

My husband actually has a funny way to test the waters with covered dishes anytime we are at a get-together with the casserole dishes spread out on a folding table, tin foil unveiled:
  1. Check to see if you can identify the pan (Is it my mom’s, ma’s, etc.?).
    1. If so, proceed to step 2.
    2. If not, is it something you love to eat? If yes, proceed with caution to step 2.
    3. If no again, skip it.
  2. Touch the pan gently with your finger to see if it’s still warm.
    1. If so, is it something you love to eat? If yes, proceed to step 4. 
    2. If not, proceed to step 3.   
  3. Move the spoon around to view the contents (a must for all casseroles).
    1. If you find an ingredient you don’t like, skip it.
    2. If there are too many ingredients to count, skip it.
  4. If all checks out OK, get a spoonful.
Ironically, when I was in college and had an eating disorder everyone wanted to talk to me about it, but nobody offered me a covered dish. Bless my heart! 😉

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