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  • How To Be A Rock Star In Tuna

    June 18, 2008

    I am getting ready for a conference that I will be attending in beautiful North Carolina this weekend where I’m looking forward to seeing friends I’ve actually met and many more friends that I haven’t actually met. And I have no idea where my suitcase is or what to put in it.  So then, for the rest of this week, it’s left over Tuna. Yummy.

    * * * * *

    If you ever find yourself in Texas, and you’re really hungry and you want good food and plenty of it, what you do is drive to the nearest small town, check the obituaries and then head to the church for the post funeral feeding. Wear an outdated and ill-fitting suit of clothes and look appropriately pitiful and you’ll blend right in. If you arouse any suspicion, you can always deflect it by complimenting the potato salad:

    “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I know you. How did you know Bubba Ray?”

    “This is the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten! Who made it?”

    “Whell! (sniff) Erleta Winslow made that, and it’s okay, if you like your potato salad dry and bland like that, bless her heart and all. You wait right here (calling over her shoulder). Let me get you some of my potato salad. I make mine with a pinch of dill. Can I bring you anything else? Refill your tea maybe? Some pie?”

    Before you know it, you’ll have four or five church ladies armed with bowls of potato salad fawning all over you. Small town people take their recipes very seriously and the church cookbook is the Who’s Who In Greater Tuna. The absolute worst social faux pas in Tuna is bringing store bought cookies to the church picnic. Your reputation would be forever sullied. Prayers like this would be offered up on your behalf in the ladies groups: Dear God, please bless poor Leona Fay. Either her oven or her mind is on the blink and we just ask that you restore her either way.

    George, my father-in-law, is a Tuna rock star. He’s got so many recipes in the First Avenue Church of Tuna cookbook that they finally set a limit. Sitting in his den the other day, he leaned forward in his recliner and beckoned me towards him. Then looking over each shoulder, he whispered to me in a low voice and confided that he had submitted some of his recipes in my mother-in-law’s name to get around the limit. I might have gasped and clapped my hand over my mouth if I had understood what a scandalous thing this was. It wasn’t scandalous that George was blatantly swan diving through a church cookbook committee loophole, but that my mother-in-law goes to The Second Avenue Church of Tuna. So in my ignorance I said, “Oh really?”

    Small town churches have a rivalry that goes far beyond that of Texas high school football, which is saying a lot, since both are considered religious activities. Being a Midwestern Catholic, I don’t really understand either. This became obvious when I attended the funeral of an elderly relative awhile back.

    After the funeral, the family gathered in the basement of the Second Avenue Church of Tuna for the post funeral feeding. One of the church ladies sashayed by my table to refill my tea and asked me how my meal was. I told her it was wonderful, especially the potato salad, and thank you so much for doing this. Instead of just shutting up like a normal person, I asked her if the recipe was from the First Avenue Church of Tuna cookbook (Antique Daddy, quit kicking me!) which is so good and has so many good recipes (would you please quit kicking me?) I’ll bet this good potato salad came from the good First Avenue Church cookbook (stop with the nudging and the kicking dude) and maybe I could buy one while I’m here. In fact, maybe I’ll buy several for gifts, they’re just that good!

    She stopped pouring the tea, slammed down the pitcher, looked me squarely in the eye and through gritted teeth hissed, “Whell! I wouldn’t know!” Then she spun around and marched off.

    I turned to Antique Daddy who was leaning on his elbows with his head in his hands. “What just happened here, dude?” I asked. “I just complimented the potato salad. Isn’t that what I was supposed to do?”

    He shook his head at my embarrassing blunder. “This is the Second Avenue Church of Tuna,” he said hanging his head. “We’re never going to get pie now.”

    * * *

    Stay tuned for more Tuna on Thursday and Friday! Yum!


    1. Renna says:

      Living in a small town in Texas, I can completely identify with the post funeral feeding. There are usually more 5 can casserole’s on the table than you can shake a stick at.

      The 5 can casserole is in every southern lady’s cuisine. You go to the pantry, pull out the first five cans you grab, dump them all in a casserole dish, add enough Velveeta cheese to ‘glue’ it all together, and bake at 350. If you’re feeling particularly saucy, cover the top with crumbled potato chips. 😉

      June 18th, 2008 at 12:25 am

    2. nan says:

      Hee hee! Hooray that I live where there is very little potato salad. Now, who made the Curried Goat?

      June 18th, 2008 at 6:37 am

    3. Heather says:

      Ha! Your town of Tuna has a Southern cousin here in Georgia. I was “blessed” to receive cookbooks from 3 different church groups at my wedding shower. Each group made sure that I found their recipes in their cookbook before I left that evening. What’s more, I was quizzed on my next visit as to whether or not I had tried the recipes!

      June 18th, 2008 at 7:23 am

    4. JanMary, N Ireland says:

      I confess I am a huge fan of church recipe books. (They do say confession is good for the soul)

      June 18th, 2008 at 8:47 am

    5. happy Mommy says:

      Now Now Antique Mommy I don’t live in Tuna but I do make the best potato salad ever! And I have 3 different church cookbooks and they are my favorite of all the cookbooks I have! I think my potato salad recipe is on my blog under recipes, check it out it’s worth it really!

      June 18th, 2008 at 9:38 am

    6. Anita says:

      everyone knows i make the best patato salad!!!!

      try doing this in church….

      June 18th, 2008 at 9:39 am

    7. Jennifer says:

      You just described the town I grew up in. Good times.

      June 18th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    8. Pam Elmore says:

      I’ve never lived in a town like Tuna, but your description of the competetive potato salad-making has me in stitches! Thank you!

      June 18th, 2008 at 10:26 am

    9. momhuebert says:

      That is such a great story!

      Oh– it reminds of a story I heard recently. Someone was telling us of a friend he had in college who had a tuition and housing plan that only covered his meals during the week. On weekends he was on his own. So, to get fed, he would drive around looking for family reunions. When he found one, he’d get in line for the food, and if anyone asked him who he was, he’d say, “I’m Pearl’s boy.”

      (Of course, he wasn’t. There was no such person.) Amazingly, most of the time the questioner would just respond, “Oh, okay.”

      If it turned out there was no one named Pearl in that family he’d gracefully apologize: “Oh, I’m sorry, I must have come to the wrong place.”

      June 18th, 2008 at 11:01 am

    10. Adventures In Babywearing says:

      Oh too funny. And oh what I would give for a good church pot luck right about now. I’m starving!


      June 18th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    11. apathy lounge says:

      Having grown up as a Southern Baptist (I’m recovering now) I know that it’s not just food which distinguishes one congregation from another. It’s also how seriously they take their softball. I believe the word “cutthroat” describes it as well as anything.

      I like dill in my potato salad, too. Just saying.

      June 18th, 2008 at 11:21 am

    12. Amy Bayliss says:

      Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors potato salad.

      I’m sorry I just had to! You are so on the mark with this! Southern churches – of any denomination – fit this bill!

      June 18th, 2008 at 11:23 am

    13. Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home says:

      Even different areas of the South differ in their culinary treats. As an Arkansas native I didn’t grow up eating grits, but I take a big Crock Pot full of cheese grits to church lunches here in Georgia. One surprise for me was mayo and pineapple sandwiches.

      I’m attending She Speaks, too, and look forward to meeting you!

      June 18th, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    14. Pam says:

      If you’re in the Charlotte area this weekend, stop by and see me. An “Antique Mommy” would feel right at home in my shop! LOL

      June 18th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    15. Jan says:

      Having lived in Tuna long enough to bring up our kids in the First Church of Tuna, I actually survived putting together and editing *two* church cookbooks. Once, a man who had recently joined the church and whose wife had received the second of the cookbooks told me he had really looked forward to seeing what I would bring to fellowship dinners, since I had more recipes in that book than anyone else. He actually had counted!!

      June 18th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    16. Kacey says:

      Oh Antique Mommy, You have really had me going for almost two years now. I have believed implicitly in your tales of Greater Tuna and the inhabitants of the third smallest town in Texas. I suppose you had to change the name to protect the innocent, but here am I, a truly gullible ditso…. believing you actually have relatives in Tuna. So, I Googled Tuna, Texas and found it is fictional and great fun. From now on, I will know that the fun in Tuna is all coming from the House of Antique and your powers of persuasion. Keep it coming!

      June 18th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    17. Meredith says:

      I love your stories! I wish I was so clever. I don’t web everyday, so I get feast on a week’s worth at a time. What fun. Thanks for the potluck!

      June 18th, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    18. Yvonne says:

      Ha! That was a great story! Made me laugh right out loud – love your writing!

      June 18th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    19. Penny Raine says:

      oh dear sister, you are sorely mistakin, that is a TN church story not a TX church story! But you are right about one thing, those church cookbooks are the best!
      blessings, Penny Raine

      June 18th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    20. Roxanne says:

      Oh, I am so excited for you. Put whatever you like in the suitcase and go have some fun.

      June 18th, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    21. julie says:

      I could laugh my sides out! Thanks for the story!

      June 18th, 2008 at 9:00 pm

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