Somebody Is Going To Die If Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet

The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting The Perfect Wedding

By Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays


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Excerpts From The Book

From SOMEBODY IS GOING TO DIE IF LILLY BETH DOESN’T CATCH THAT BOUQUET by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. Copyright 2007 Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.

There Will Always Be One More Last Delta Wedding


In the Mississippi Delta, funerals bring out the best in people, while weddings, which are supposed to be happy occasions, bring out the worst. It takes a strong love to survive a Delta wedding. Funerals bring out our genuineness; weddings bring out our pretentiousness. A lady we know is still smarting from the time, several years ago, she was asked in to view a relative’s wedding presents. “I’m glad you could come now,” said Cousin Snooty, mother of the bride, “because I won’t have room for you at the wedding.” Actually, this was unusual in the Delta, because we tend to invite everybody we know, plus some. But at least Cousin Snooty made sure everybody had an opportunity to see the gifts (and certainly to give one).


A carpenter had been called in to build a tiered, bleacher-like affair that was draped in white organdy, with bows and swags. The custom of displaying wedding presents in this manner has gone down as the price of silver has gone up. Brides now in their forties are probably the last generation to have observed this tradition. . . .


Delta Wedding Brunch for Yankee Guests


Our friend Hebe Randolph’s family followed the custom of classically educated Southerners of former times in using names from Greek and Roman mythology. We only hope the first Hebe, the cupbearer to the immortals on Mount Olympus, had half as many china cups as our own Hebe, who is the umpteenth Hebe in her line. There are probably very few Yankees named Hebe (pronounced he-be). Hebe’s niece did not marry a Yankee. But the niece lives in New York, and so a lot of the wedding guests had not previously visited the Mississippi Delta. We wanted them to get a real taste of the Delta.


We like to think they were impressed by the bonfires Hebe’s brother built to help them find their way to the plantation (we also like to think our Delta bonfires are just like the ones they had in England when Prince Charles and Lady Di got hitched). Hebe lives on Deer Creek in Leland, Mississippi, about twelve miles from Greenville, and it is the perfect setting for a brunch for out-of-town guests. Disaster struck, however, when the caterer took sick. Bland Shackelford and Gayden jumped in at the last minute and saved the day. The wedding brunch was held the day of the wedding, which was an eight in the evening affair.........


Some Recipes From The Book


Frances Davenport Madison’s Pound Cake


We don’t want you to think that all Delta weddings, even ones that qualify as last Delta weddings, are big blowouts with a cast of thousands. This recipe makes a wonderful alternative wedding cake for a smallish wedding. We don’t recommend groom’s cakes, but we cannot say enough good things about this delicious cake. It came with a nice note from art curator George Shackelford, whose mother, Sue Shackelford, was a beloved lady who learned never to go out of the house without her gloves while finishing at the Ward Belmont School in Nashville. She was also the daughter of Mrs. Madison (1900–1991), whose specialty this was. “Here is the wonderful pound cake recipe, dug out of Sue’s card files at Christmas in a bit of culinary archaeology,” George wrote. “It really needs to be made when you are expecting enough people to mostly eat it up. Otherwise you end up at 3 a.m. in your underwear or nightgown in the kitchen sneaking just one more slice.”



3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup shortening

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and blend to the consistency of corn meal. Then add

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

Blend, then add

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon rum flavoring

1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring

Blend, but avoid overworking the batter.

Place in a greased and floured Bundt pan.

Bake at 325° until the cake separates from the pan—about 1 hour.

Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan.



1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Boil and stir until thickened.

Add 1 teaspoon almond extract. Brush glaze on cake.

Pink and White Sauce for Oysters and Shrimp


Girls from the Delta love to use their stuff, and do they ever have the stuff. Gayden had two huge clamshells, together weighing in at four hundred pounds, in her backyard. She had taken a fancy to these clamshells and had them brought up from Florida. They were so heavy, the car listed. Not content with the damage done to one automobile, Gayden transported her enormous clamshells to Hebe’s: the freshly shucked oysters and shrimp looked so pretty in their clamshells. (Please do not call this a raw bar.) The shells quickly sank into the gumbo (that’s Delta for dirt). It looked like an oyster bar for a midget, not that we have anything against midgets, as long as they are refined. Finally, the table on which the clamshells sat had to be shored up with a plywood and brick base. Lemon halves were tied up with satin ribbons in little bags—of course, the lemons had been seeded first. Bland turned up her nose at the notion of red sauce at a wedding breakfast. But most of us have loved red sauce since we ate it on crackers as children. Still, a tasty white sauce or a pink, pink being perfect for a wedding breakfast, seemed more appropriate for a wedding brunch. The white sauce is simply homemade mayonnaise—which we pronounce mi-naise. (The clamshells were subsequently turned into birdbaths, and so we feel certain it was their last Delta wedding.)

pink sauce


People in the Delta just love anchovies. Our friend Josie Winn used to call them “minnows.” At the most famous restaurant in town, Doe’s, the owner brings out a separate bowl of them for us to add to the salads. Lillo’s, a popular restaurant a few miles from Greenville, is always obliged to add extra anchovies to their salads. They have a delicious pizza baked with lots of minnows. Not recommended for the bride within a week or two of the big day!


1 cup homemade mayonnaise

3/4 cup bottled chili sauce

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

12 drops Tabasco

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

Mix all ingredients and chill one day before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Makes about two cups.

white sauce

A purist prefers a generous squeeze of lemon because it doesn’t interfere with the taste of the oyster. This sauce, reflecting our deep and abiding love of mi-naise, is not for purists.



1 cup homemade mayonnaise

1/2 cup Durkee Famous Sauce

2 tablespoons Creole mustard

3 tablespoons chopped green onions

2 tablespoons horseradish (the jar variety found in the cooler section of the grocery)

1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon white pepper

Salt and Tabasco to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill overnight. Correct seasonings.

Makes one and a half cups.

Anne Hall Mcgee’s Cheese Straws


Cheese straws are served at almost any occasion in the Delta. There are innumerable recipes, but this is the one that was used at Hebe’s wedding brunch.



8 ounces sharp or extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

1 stick or little more butter, softened

2 scant cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

Cayenne pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Grate cheese in processor. Let sit until room temp, add butter. Mix in flour, salt, and cayenne to taste depending on how hot and spicy you want the cheese straws to be. Hot and spicy is best. Fill cookie press fitted with ribbon disk and press onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for about 12 minutes.

Makes about six dozen.

Alsha Mccourt’s Bloody Marys by the Gallon

At the brunch, these were served with a celery stalk garnish.


21/2 cans (28 ounces) V8 juice

Juice of 2 limes and 2 lemons (lemons optional)

2 heaping tablespoons horseradish

1 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Tabasco

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoon Cavender’s Greek seasoning

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 beef boullion cube dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Vodka—not less than a fifth, but Deltans prefer a liter.

Mix all ingredients and stir.

Makes one gallon.

Venison Grillades


This was an unusual treat for visitors from New York—and for us. “I had never had this dish until my sister-in-law, Martha Green, brought it up here from South Louisiana,” recalls Bland. “I was having a dear friend who lives in England for brunch and wanted to serve something local. My husband, Johnny, had a freezer full of venison hams and so began the experiment. After consulting lots of books, we found a recipe we liked, and tinkered with it.” Grillades, by the way, is a stew with a fancy French name. Like a pot roast, grillades can be cooked forever to good advantage. Served over grits (recipe below).


Seasoned Flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne

Mix in a bowl and put aside.



4 pounds venison ham

6 or more tablespoons bacon fat

2 cups chopped scallions

1 cup chopped red onion

3/4 cup chopped celery

2 sliced red bell peppers

2 or 3 large cloves fresh garlic

4 cups beef stock

11/2 cups red wine

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Tabasco

bouquet garni

3 bay leaves

6 sprigs fresh thyme

6 sprigs fresh parsley

Tie the bouquet garni ingredients in a bundle.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cut the meat in large strips, about three inches long and about an inch wide. Season the flour with salt. Dip strips in flour, but do not dip all at once, as they will get soggy. Heat a Dutch oven until hot. Add the bacon grease. Start with the meat that is ready, and brown. Keep going until all the meat is done. Lift the meat out of the Dutch oven and put it in a bowl. Scrape the Dutch oven, and add the vegetables. Cook, stirring, until the onions are clear. Put the meat back into the Dutch oven, adding the stock, wine, tomato paste, and bouquet garni. Place a piece of parchment paper between the lid and the pan for a perfect seal and then put the Dutch oven into the oven and heat at 350° for 2 hours. Check, and if the meat is not falling apart, put it back for another hour. Do this until it is fork-tender. Adjust the seasonings and season to taste with Tabasco. This is better after a day in the icebox (as we call the refrigerator). Bland and Gayden highly recommend that you lift the fat if it has been refrigerated.

Serves twenty.