Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Would You Eat A Dead Lady’s Food?

Join me today for a post from author CJ West. Enjoy!

Lorado Martin, star of my new novel Dinner At Deadman’s, loves to rummage around estates of the newly-deceased and prepare them for sale. He’s attracted to all sorts of collectibles, antiques, about anything lying around someone’s house that proves interesting.

The title Dinner At Deadman’s comes from a night Lorado is working in a woman’s home and decides to eat some cereal from her kitchen. I have been surprised by how revolting people find the idea of eating something from a dead lady’s home, so I thought I’d explore that idea with you a bit today.

One of my most surprising food finds was a can of peaches at the bottom of a set of cellar stairs. The can had rusted through. The peaches had seeped out and all that remained of them was a dark-colored spot on the wooden shelf underneath the can. The can must have been sitting there for several years and I wonder if anyone considered eating those peaches in the few years before I found them.

I think we can all agree we wouldn’t eat peaches from a rusty old can, but what about a can of soup in the pantry that was shiny and new? Could there really be anything wrong with soup that’s been lying around a while? If it was free, would you take it home? Would you check the expiration date first?

For me it would be an easy call. If it was canned food that I would buy anyway, I’d take any can that was in good condition. I’m not sure exactly what makes eating food from a dead person’s house weird. Is it the idea that whatever killed them might be infectious? Or is it a superstition that the food could be haunted? Or maybe the ghost of the previous owner would torment you for taking it home?

Let’s go to the kitchen next.

I remember eating cereal at my grandmother’s house. It was always stale. And she always filled bowls by hand, reaching in, grabbing a handful, and dropping it in a bowl like an excavator. That always seemed a little gross to me as a kid. The idea of a strange old lady’s hand on my cereal is enough for me to forgo an open box.

How about you? If you found an unopened box of your favorite cereal would you take it?

It’s a slippery slope once you get started. You open the freezer and see frozen steaks. The food starts to have value and in these tough economic times I think a lot of us would be tempted to take some of that free food home, especially if it was in a sealed container.

Whether this sounds like a great idea or a crazy one, I hope you’ll check out Dinner At Deadman’s and explore a sweet little old lady’s kitchen alongside Lorado.

C.J. West is the author of seven suspense novels including The End of Marking Time and Sin and Vengeance, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor). C.J. blogs at You can also find him at or at


Karen Duvall said...

That's really interesting that people would be revolted by eating food that was previously owned by someone now deceased. When we shop, do we really know all there is to know about the food we buy? Who's to say the person who packaged it didn't die the same day. :) Your potato chips could be contaminated with dead man cooties.

My brother-in-law makes a living doing estate sales, though I have to say most of the stuff in his sales and in his collection are antiques. I seriously doubt food is among the items he inventories, but I should ask him. I'm curious now.

Anonymous said...

With all the folks stockpiling food these days, whether to prepare for natural disasters or the zombie apocalypse, I sure hope people will consume food left in the well-stocked pantries of the deceased - especially if it's sealed, or of the good-for-decades variety.
Catherine Dilts

CJ West said...

Thanks for your comment Karen.

I guess I'm running in circles with really squeamish people up here in the northeast.

I don't even want to think about dead man cooties.


CJ West said...


I had a fun time on my blog with the Mayan Apocalypse (mine included zombies). I'm a big fan of the walking dead and watching them eat dead people's food on that show never gave me pause.


tamylee said...

Personally, I don't have any trouble with it if the food is canned or packaged with the seal never broken. But, I'm a couponer, so I'm cheap, lol!

Jo Vasichek-Ralston said...

I've dealt with this when assisting or clearing out the homes of friends/family. There really is nothing wrong with clearing out and making use of food from cabinets and freezers.

Far better than letting things go to waste - especially in this economy. Perhaps it's my thrifty Midwestern upbringing or my Slavic heritage...

CJ West said...


I've never had the patience for couponing. If you're a couponer, do you get your e-books free?

CJ West said...


Thanks for coming by!

I'm all for thrifty. I don't have a problem with it either. I guess my swamp yankee heritage shows through too.