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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Cooking as Solace and Comfort



In the spring we experienced a death in our family that shocked and saddened us. About six weeks later The Washington Post published a commentary by Mireille Grangenois who wrote of providing the meals for her aging father during his final illness. Although our situations couldn't be more different, we feel she articulated something important. Many humans recognize cooking is an act of love as evidenced by the effort expended when loved ones join for meals both celebratory and commemorative. On a smaller scale and more often, we cook as a sign of our love, sometimes every day. Friends and neighbors offer caretakers and the bereaved meals, knowing there is little else one can do when hearts are badly broken. Grangenois, while recognizing the significance of the gifts, sees them also as personal healing acts with mutual comforting benefits. She calls it "self-healing and self-preservation".

Our family members utilized cooking in its necessity but also as we tried to heal. Last spring, during the time of crisis when family joined together, the communal kitchens at a Ronald McDonald House were used to create some of the most luscious meals we've eaten. Soon afterwards one family member most keenly affected by the loss cooked for those who had rallied to be of assistance: chicken and waffles, grilled pizza, and a seafood feast. Still later, others of us traveled long distances to connect with far-flung siblings, parents, and children, and often our focus was on the food we could provide each other.

Included in this recipe repository are a good number of foods that have comforted Betsy and me either as recipients or as cooks (see especially Chocolate Bread Pudding). While we've taken a break from our blog as we've mourned we think we're ready to start again. Even that may be some comfort to us.