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What we eat at funerals can be a symbol for the departed, a balm in hard times, or a reminder that eating means we are still alive.

Though he wouldn’t die for another decade and a half, Alan Davidson published the plans for his funeral in 1988, when he was 64 years old. Davidson, a British food writer and a former diplomat, perhaps best known for editing the encyclopedic Oxford Companion to Food, wanted to give a souvenir to his funeral attendees: a cookbook full of his favorite recipes. “With what better keepsake could one depart from a funeral?” Davidson pondered in the essay “Funeral Cookbook,” first published in his 1988 collection A Kipper with My Tea. “What other would equally well keep one’s memory green among friends?”

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