BlogHer of the Week: A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen
I'll never forget the first chocolate-covered cherry I ate after my maternal grandmother died. These cherries were always given on her birthday, Christmas Eve, when she would slowly unwrap the box and re-gift each one to her grandchildren like a fairy magicking treasure. To this day at Christmas I buy these cherries, smile, mist up and miss her. In Coconut Layer Cake, Kim Morgan Moss shares the story of feeling her way back from her younger brother's sudden death by cooking, starting with his memorial:
"Before my parents and sister could answer, [the pastor] gently proceeded by suggesting that they pick up some deli trays and bread at the grocery store. “People will be hungry when they get to the house,” he exclaimed. At once, as if in unison, my parents and sister declared “Oh no! We are cooking the food and the menu is already planned.” The fact is, within 24 hours of my brother’s death, they had already sat and hashed over every detail of the menu; adding this dish and tossing out that suggestion. How could this be? How can a family focus on food at a time like this?
"This is an easy question to answer. Cooking is one of the most genuine ways my family shows that they love and care."
In her post, the blogger behind A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen uses beautiful, spare language to describe how her family came together to grieve, to remember and to celebrate her brother Keith. The simple act of describing how her family tied on their aprons and began preparing chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, filet mignon with horseradish sauce, and shrimp newberg is solemn and moving:
"Around mid-day I decided to speak up. “The menu is wonderful. But why aren’t we making Keith’s favorite, apple pie? He always asked mom to make it for his birthday.” No one knew the answer to this, but it was agreed that we needed to add this to the menu. We decided to make individual mini apple crostadas. We all pitched in to make 60 apple crostadas in addition to the already impressive 12″ carrot cake that my sister had made, the 50 miniature cheesecakes and the 100 chocolate crepes that my mom had made days before. Running out of food was not an option."
As someone who has lost family members in their adult prime, with no warning, simply woken up to find them gone and with them a piece of my heart, I was particularly taken by Blogger Kim Morgan Moss's use of beautiful photography to illustrate her loss. She blogged the memorial after the fact, an epilogue to an epitaph, layering in memories among photographs of a new recipe. At the end of her heartbreaking story, the cook has a finished, six-tiered coconut cake. The cake has nothing to do with her brother's memorial -- rather, it's a metaphor for the fact that Kim must now go on with her life.
The photographs are large and rich in color, positioned to interrupt her prose about the day of her brother's memorial. The pictures bear silent witness to what we all experience when someone we love dies: We go on living, somehow, as we grieve and remember.
Kim bakes. She remembers her brother. She frosts. She celebrates -- "I love you, Keith." And offers us a slice of Coconut Layer Cake.
Here is the taste of memory. And for that, we choose A Yankee in A Southern Kitchen as BlogHer of the Week.
Thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them coming!
For Elisa, Jory and Lisa