This past weekend, someone very close to me lost someone very close to him. As a nation we all lost something as well. Tonight, I didn’t feel much like cooking, or doing anything really. However, I realize that there is comfort in routine. For at least a year, I’ve been making salmon Mondays. If you’ve been reading the blog from its inception at the end of October you will have seen this go-to herb-crusted salmon dish before.
Instead of succumbing to the dreary wet and cold weather, and the grief of both a nation and my dear friend, I decided that the best thing I can do for myself and those around me is to stay strong. That is where routine comes in. I forced myself to go to my Monday night gym class and made my Monday night herb-crusted salmon. I even decided to embellish the side-dish by making something I discovered in the summer heat of southern Spain: a simple roasted eggplant with honey–they fried theirs.
Eating during periods of mourning is what keeps people together. A few years ago, my Asian friend asked me what she should bring to a Jewish funeral, money, as in the Asian tradition or flowers? I told her food. Jews bring food. She thought I was joking, but in the Jewish religion, we set up camp right in the cemetery and share food and drink as if our loved one is there enjoying it with us. In Peru, I realize the Incan people did something similar. The first thing Jews do when someone passes is usually eat. It’s a sad and empty meal, but it’s food, tons of food and with food comes company, community and the ability to reconnect with our basic needs and more importantly our routines, when everything around us is thrown into chaos.
So while I’ve embarked upon remembering all the joy that I have had in my travels this year through meals, tonight remains Salmon Monday, so I can keep the routine, remind myself of what I choose to do when the night is free and my emotions are light and when those whom I love are near and dear and unencumbered by the weight of what we deal with as humans.
I served the meal with Argentinean wine given to me by a couple as a gift for some professional hard work that I did for them because I like them. For dessert I had chocolate given to me by a mentor of mine for all the curiosity and enthusiasm I bring to her each week. I composed this meal with things that mean the most to me. Though the moments with all of these people may be as fleeting as the meal itself, they are part of my routine that I built to bring meaning to this life.
To my dear few readers (I think on my best day I’ve gotten 50 page views and I’m convinced that half of them are my family making fun of me) who cherish stories, cooking and food, I wish you strength in routine, happy breaking of that routine, peaceful holidays and much joy in the New Year.