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Oct 19, 2007 12:55 PM

Foods that memorialize those no longer with us

I had a sort of "honorary grandfather" who taught me how to make bread by hand, as well as some classic Italian specialties in his repertoire. He passed away several years ago, but even today when I make bread, it seems to conjure vivid memories.

My mom likes to go our for a classic martini when she visits me in New York, in memory of my father's favorite Friday night drink.

Do people have special foods and special preparations that they eat/make in honor of the deceased?

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  1. I honor my grandfather whenever we have Japanese food (either at home or at a restaurant) by pouring some tea into a bowl of rice to eat. He'd always finish a meal that way (at least, that's how I remember it), and I learned to do it as a child. Now, I do it because I miss him.

    Great thread, thanks.

    1. we make my grandma's strudel recipe for special occasions and large family gatherings and when we get to the dessert course and it is served it is a great moment to talk about her for a few minutes - she died 10 years ago.

      1 Reply
      1. re: smartie

        My brother in law died two years ago-way too young. He was a great guy and, born in Italy, basically taught the whole family (lace-curtain-mashed-potato-Irish) how to cook. But it is when we make a simple salad that I remember him best.
        1. Take the best green lettuce you can find (butter is best) and break by hand.
        2. Gently toss it with excellent olive oil until it is just slightly bruised.
        3. Drizzle with lemon juice from thin-skinned lemons.
        4. Add salt
        5. Enjoy!

      2. Oh my, yes. In fact I'm making the dish this weekend for a family gathering. Glorified rice. One of my uncles, gone now for 15 years, had a serious love of the dish. In our family's peculiar little pocket of Midwestern Scandinavianism, the dish comprised cooked rice blended with sweetened/vanilla'd whipped cream and drained canned fruit cocktail. (It is oddly compelling, I have to say...and not all SO bad for you in the grand scheme of things.) Aforementioned Uncle would scoop up a huge bowl, prop himself in the corner of a room and hold court, with stories and jokes and teasing. My family members invariable cite memories of that uncle whenever glorified rice makes its way onto the potluck table. And everyone smiles. That's the secret ingredient - the memories.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cayjohan

          Mom (Danish) made it using canned crushed pineapple for the fruit component.I think she called it "heavenly rice".

          1. re: cayjohan

            My grandma (German) called this Rice Salad - she used red grapes and pineapple. She also added walnuts. She is from Kansas.

          2. Three days before my mom passed away, she requested bi bim bap as her last meal. While she had really not eaten for weeks (she had advanced pancreatic cancer), she forced the food down her stomach. About a day before she died, she had hallucinations of persimmons. So on the anniversary of her death, I put out bi bim bap and a plate of beautifully arranged persimmons. I plan on doing this every year.

            1. Every time I make biscuits I think of my grandma.

              My mom called this morning and they're going down to clean out Gram and Papa's house (Gram's been gone for 25 years and Papa died a year and a half ago, but my uncle Galen had been living there until last January). She asked me if I wanted anything from the house. I'm getting Gram's pots and pans. Nothing special, just a set of Club pans and maybe some cast iron. But they were Gram's.