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Delicious US gravestone recipes that are to ‘die for’

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TikTok star Rosie Grant bakes spritz cookies at her home in Los Angeles, California, on October 29, 2022./AFP
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Nov 01, 2022 - 04:02 AM

WASHINGTON — For some, gravestones can evoke mourning, for others a tribute to a loved one, or, with a little imagination, a gaunt hand emerging from freshly turned earth.

But to the discerning eye, a scattering of gravestones contain recipes, and an American librarian has begun to explore them on TikTok, where her videos posted under the account @ghostlyarchive have drawn millions of views.

Peach crumble, blueberry pie or fudge: for each gourmet epitaph, 33-year-old Rosie Grant proceeds in the same way.

Faced with limited instructions — “there’s only so much space on a gravestone,” she tells AFP — she first has to guess the cooking time and temperature. Viewers of her TikTok videos often post comments that allow her to refine the recipes.

It was by chance that Grant stumbled upon her first recipe from the graveyard, that of the spritz cookies of one Naomi Odessa Miller-Dawson, who died in 2009 at the age of 87 and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

As an intern in the archives of a Washington cemetery, Grant discovered the world of taphophiles, people who have a passion for cemeteries, tombstones and other aspects of burial.

She started a TikTok account dedicated to the unexpected wonders of cemeteries and ended up unearthing Miller-Dawson’s recipe on the internet.

“It wasn’t just that it said this woman liked cookies… It had the actual ingredients for the cookies on her gravestone. And I was, like, ‘that’s amazing!'” says the librarian, who has since moved to Los Angeles. “What is this? What is this recipe? What does this taste like? I was so curious.”

‘Coolest thing ever’ 

She has even been contacted by descendants of those whose recipes she makes. All of the recipes she found were on gravestones of women, most of whom have died within the past 30 years.

“A lot of them have grandkids and great grandkids that are on TikTok. So several of them have commented on the videos, like, ‘Hey, this is my grandma, this is the recipe we made and I recommend you do it this way, which is the coolest thing ever!” Grant says enthusiastically.

In between recipes, the librarian explores graveyards in her videos, tells about the lives of accused witches buried there, shares anecdotes about the lives of buried celebrities or tells, for example, how the custom of picnicking at cemeteries went out of fashion in the early 20th century.

For Grant, who lost both of her grandmothers during the pandemic, the journey has brought some closure.

“This whole process has made me aware of the idea that people and society are better off if you think about your own mortality. And not to be, like, ‘Yay death!’ It’s not a happy thing, but to be more, like, ‘oh, it’s okay that we’ll all die someday,’ and celebrate yourself.”

For Halloween, Grant will try a new recipe from the afterlife: apricot ice cream.

And at the end of the video, she’ll add these words that she concludes each of her TikTok videos with: “They’re to die for.”

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