Food is an important part of life… and death. In the unique and somewhat macabre cookbook, “Death Warned Over”, Author and foodie Lisa Rogak gives us a unique look into the relationship between death, mourning, food, and family, spread across the globe.
Filled with historical background and recipes for 75 different funeral ceremonies around the world, Death Warmed Over also serves up a nice helping of insight into the customs of each culture from the Irish to the Amish, the ancient Etruscans to the modern-day Hmong.
This is the first of a Three part series on her cookbook, where Lisa has shared some of the more interesting customs and recipes with us at FoodOddity.
The Funeral and Food Rituals of Bali
People who regard themselves to be thoroughly modern Balinese today tend to incorporate their mixed heritage into their funeral ceremonies, which include rituals from Indonesia, Java, as well as Polynesia and China.
It’s among Bali’s primitive tribes where the traditions that involve funerals and food get interesting. After death, a kind of Chinese water torture is performed on the body, which is set on a table, and a slow stream of water slowly drips onto the body. Just below this setup, a cradle filled with rice husks is placed so that as the water falls from the body, it drips directly onto the husks, along with any liquid leaching out of the body.
No mention is made of how long the rice husks are steeped in this corpse water, but afterwards, the body is buried and the rice is shook from the husk, then cooked as usual. Before serving, the rice is shaped into the form of a human, which all the tribe members then eat.
Another Balinese tribe sets the corpse on a wooden platform near a cliff. In most cases, wild animals and birds would make quick work of the remains after three days, which is also referred to as an “air burial.” If the creatures were less than diligent, the tribe interprets this to mean that the spirits don’t want the body. If it’s not good enough for the spirits, the tribe doesn’t want it either, and they then shove the body off the cliff, nearer to the critters’ lairs, in the hopes they’ll take the hint.
Balinese Black Rice Pudding (molded into a man-shaped mold)
- 1/2 cup of black glutinous rice (available from Asian markets)
- 1/3 cup of white glutinous rice
- 3-1/4 cups water
- 1/4 cup of white sugar
- 1 8-ounce can coconut cream
- Mix the black and white glutinous rice in a colander, and rinse under running water to remove starch. Place the rice and 3 cups of water into a heavy pan and simmer, stirring occasionally.
- In a small saucepan, add the sugar to ¼-cup of water. Bring the ingredients to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes until a syrup forms. Set aside.
- When the rice has simmered for about 30 minutes, add the sugar syrup to the cooked rice, and continue to simmer gently until most of the liquid has evaporated. The rice should now be a dark purple color.
- Lightly grease a copper gingerbread-man mold. Transfer the pudding into the mold and even out the top with a knife.
- Cool and serve.
Rogak’s resume includes selling vintage funeral equipment as well as driving a number of hearses — for pleasure, so she knows this subject well…
Get the book on Amazon