|Dinner out at Mexico Restaurant
"What do you cook for a last birthday dinner?"
That was the Facebook post I made two years ago today. I had been my dad's personal cook for nearly eleven months as he confronted his cancer. We ate a lot of pancakes in the mornings, a lot of soups for lunch, and so many different concoctions for dinner: Greek chicken with lemon, Spanish paella, Indian burritos...
Dinner usually started with a walk to the grocery store and had me doing research in my "Flavor Bible" to find the best new recipes. I can't stand using the same recipe over and over. Dad, of course, never cared about "fancy" food. He would have been quite content to have me rotate 8-10 old standbys as long as we went out to eat at least once a week. But, I figured if I was stuck in San Bernardino for an undetermined future, at least I would travel with the palate. Dad was the one who had been fond of taking me out to dinner growing up. He introduced me to cheesecake, ribs, and Frank Sinatra on the jukebox at an Italian restaurant. He had me flying across the Pacific every other year. So dog gonnit, I was going to take him around the world with my cooking, and we visited quite a few places. I named this little pseudo-restaurant operation "Winterblue," which is a combination of parts of both of our Indian names, and I tried to post as many of my creations on Instagram (@blueeaglerare) as possible. It felt like something for me to keep my sanity, well, that and Karaoke Tuesday at the Rustic Inn. However, what I hoped it was was a gift to show him where I had been and what I had tasted - all tailored to meet his preferences (well, except for lentils; he hated lentils, I found).
My mom had been meeting with me regularly and sharing fruits and vegetables from her garden. I don't think she knew about the karaoke, so perhaps this was her way of making sure I was okay. At this point, Dad was under home hospice care. I knew his days of chewing were nearly finished if not already, but I was determined to make something he might enjoy if he were able to. I finally arrived at the decision of Greek Steak that I copied to the best of my ability from one of our favorite restaurants in town - DJ's. Mom had brought over a whole lot of strawberries. Dad really loved strawberries, and really all sorts of fruits, so I decided to make a strawberry cake - from scratch, of course. That was the last food he ate.
Why am I telling you this? Yes, probably the least happy birthday you can imagine, but this blog is about discoveries. We are all tasked at some point to use our talents and experience for some sort of benefit to the world, I think. It doesn't always make sense at the time, but I would encourage you to go ahead with it anyway. I'm going to keep feeding people, if they let me. Hopefully it will take me somewhere good. It has so far.
Happy Birthday, Dad.