When I was young I often wondered why people gave food to someone who had recently experienced the death of a loved one. I was young enough to not have experienced the crippling grief that can cause depression and a lack of motivation to even get out of bed, let alone make a meal. But, it makes sense. If you are dealing with the grieving process, you might even lose the energy to take care of yourself, let alone other family members who are grieving with you. Depending on the relation who has passed, the degree of grief may be great, or it may be manageable.
Cultures globally all have funeral and grieving traditions, and my research tells me that all of them include food in the traditions. Whether a typical American Midwest hot dish or traditional Hindu vegetarian samosas, these dishes are just one way for loved ones and friends to take care of those who are grieving. People want to do something, and cooking seems like a good way to help. I imagine the food would be welcome – the last thing you want to think about after losing someone is what to cook for dinner.
Even more so, sharing food is sharing of ourselves. It is the original social networking: recipe cards often included the name of the person who shared it, and those names spread among families and friends as a good source of good food.
Whether your tradition is to share macaroni and cheese with fried chicken, or Amish raisin pie, I hope you will do me a favor. I lost my dad the other day. Please take a minute to cook a good meal for your family and express your love in a way that works for you. If you drink wine, my dad would be happy for you to enjoy a glass in his memory. Maybe share a favorite recipe with a friend or family member, just because. These contacts are so important. When a person is gone, you have no more chances to tell them how important they are to you.
This is the last meal I made for my dad, so I’ll share it with you today.
1 lb white fish – tilapia or other more bland fish
1 lb shrimp – tails off is better
1 lb scallops
2 T cooking sherry
1 capsule saffron threads
2 T olive oil
1 leek finely chopped OR 1 white onion finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fennel seeds – ground coarsely in a mortar to break them open
29 oz can tomato sauce – low sodium is better
1 cup chicken broth – low sodium
1 cup water
2 t salt – more or less as desired
1 t thyme
1 t basil
2 T fresh parsley finely chopped
Ground parmesan cheese
Put saffron threads into sherry and set aside.
Cut fish into bite sized pieces.
In a stock pot, heat the oil, then saute the leek or onion and garlic about 4 minutes.
Add all liquids to the pot, including the saffron/sherry
Add the herbs.
Bring just to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Use immersion blender to blend until smooth.
Add the fish, shrimp and scallops. Stir well then simmer another 10 minutes.
Serve topped with chopped parsley and a pinch of parmesan cheese.