We haven’t posted anything new in many months. My (Jonathan) dad passed away unexpectedly this past fall. We were totally blindsided and thrown immediately into emergency mode.
It happened right before the holiday season, so we had to experience quite a few firsts without him before even getting to process what had happened. While most people were getting ready for Christmas, we were planning a memorial service. Difficult doesn’t begin to describe it. For the first few weeks after his passing, I lost my appetite. We were just starting to make progress with this food blog, but it suddenly didn’t matter anymore. And we’ve been thrown into all new responsibilities we weren’t really ready for. We’re still trying to adapt.
I can in no way do him justice in this post, and I’ve been procrastinating writing anything because I can’t possibly do this perfectly. But I know he’d be okay with that. This post is our way of moving forward with his memory through the grief. It still feels unreal, and life will never be the same without him. He’d want us to keep going with this and it’s one of the best ways I know to honor him.
Our Biggest Fan and Cheerleader
My dad was so encouraging of our cooking and creating this blog. Even before we started putting our stuff online, he’d often tell us how what we’d made for dinner was the best thing he ever ate. And that wasn’t just him exaggerating and being kind because he was my dad. He truly meant it because he believed in us. I know this because he was quick to tell me when he didn’t like something he ate.
Unfortunately, the last week of his life in the hospital was some of the worst food he’d had (I’m sure many of you can relate). I lament that I wasn’t able to cook him one last meal. In fact, one of the last things we cooked for him that he raved about was Anthony Bourdain’s lasagna recipe, which has become a favorite of ours. I was, however, able to deliver him one last Diet Coke, his favorite soft drink.
Jill and I would often go over to my parents’ house and cook or grill for them. Dad would wander into the kitchen and give us the biggest grin and look of amazement at whatever we were preparing for dinner. He had the funniest expressions, often licking his lips and exclaiming “Mmmmm, yum yum yum! I don’t know what that is, but it looks delicious!”.
I can’t replicate it in words alone. You simply had to be there. And that’s a really hard thing in itself, because he and his sense of humor were one of a kind. For those that never knew him, I can’t properly explain how fun he was to be around. He just was.
While a lot of my love for cooking and food came from my mom, my dad definitely encouraged this passion. We had countless celebratory meals out at nice restaurants which exposed me to cuisines outside of the ordinary. My dad was always up for celebrating something and more than the great food, I’ll always be grateful we spent all that time together.
Coping Through Cooking
Coping with loss is a struggle. One of the first things I did was write down a list of all my dad’s favorite foods. I didn’t want to forget it later down the line. I have a foodographic memory, meaning I can remember what I was doing by what I was eating, and vice versa. So it’s easy for food to take me back to a place in time. It’s quite powerful. I can remember him whenever I eat the foods he loved.
My dad didn’t cook a lot, but he had a few things he made well. I always really liked the way he made scrambled eggs on the weekend. He’d often call it Egg Scramblet. I finally figured out how he made it. The secret was a dash of Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, and a bit of cheese, usually smoked gouda. I’ll gladly share the recipe. He also made a good fried catfish and “spaghetti a la Prego meat sauce”. It was basic, but good, and I’ll always have that to remember him by whenever I make it.
Every time we cook, especially when we make something new and exciting, it’s a way of honoring his memory. My dad loved learning new things and that is really the genesis of what this blog is all about. Learning new skills and pushing yourself a little bit more. We’re pushing through this, one recipe at a time.