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The Southern Sympathy Cookbook” hits stands Jan. 16th.

Meghan Overdeep
January 9, 2018

You know what they say: “Nobody in the world eats better than the bereaved Southerner.”

This quote, from Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays’ book, “Being Dead is No Excuse” rings true for cookbook author and Memphis native, Perre Coleman Magness.

In her latest cookbook, “The Southern Sympathy Cookbook” ($22.95;, Magness takes a deep dive into the foods that have helped Southerners mourn for generations. The recipes range from retro favorites like hummingbird muffins and deviled ham, to new traditions like Cornbread Salad and Paper Bag Chicken. Each of these recipes have become favorites for a reason—they are easy to prepare in big batches, sturdy enough to deliver to a family across town, and reheat well for hungry family members arriving late at night.

Though each recipe holds a special place in her heart, and the hearts of her fellow Southerners, Magness told The Commercial Appeal that fried chicken is always number one.

WATCH: Funeral Etiquette Every Southerner Should Know


"That's the big thing across the South," Magness told the newspaper. "It bridged ages, race, everything. When I'd ask people about funeral food, they'd say fried chicken and then might follow up with 'You know, my grandmother always made such-and-such.'"

In addition to page after page of Southern funeral staples, “The Southern Sympathy Cookbook” is also a light-hearted look at Southern funeral culture—the surprisingly celebratory ceremonies that bring families together to laugh, cry and share stories. In that spirit, this book includes stories, notes on Southern traditions, and excerpts of very unusual, and very real obituaries.

Magness' first book, "Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook," was published in 2014, and her third, "Southern Snacks," will be released this fall. She's also the author of the food blog The Runaway Spoon.

“The Southern Sympathy Cookbook” will be available January 16th. It’s available for pre-order now on