So I have been trying to grieve the loss of my grandmother, but I have discovered that this is not always as easy as it might seem. There is something blocking me (Lena is sure it is something stupid and male) from working through my feelings. When people ask how I am doing I either tell them “fine”, if I just want to keep the conversation moving, or “I don’t know”, if I’m feeling particularly honest.
Last night Lena and I went out to eat at a local seafood place and both of us thought about getting shrimp, and then discarded the idea. Shrimp was my grandmother’s favorite and we were worried we would start crying in the restaurant. So clearly there is grief here to be worked through.
I thought that perhaps the problem was the lack of proper ritual. Attendant to every death I have ever been part of, there was a particular ritualistic dish prepared for the mourners that has been notably absent from this grieving. I speak of course of Broccoli Casserole, the Casserole of Death.
Thinking to jump-start my process and escape the pall of numbness and distraction that clouds my brain, I made my own broccoli casserole. It seemed good at first, but then as it cooled it became more and more brick-like, until it resembled nothing so much as a pleasant smelling slab of rubber-coated terra cotta. Now it is sitting in the kitchen while I decide whether to try and fix it with water or maybe another can of mushroom soup… or to make Lena help me carry it to the trash can and let the garbage men sort it out.
The point of all this was that I was wondering what other Death Foods folks in other parts of the country and the world bring to people who have lost loved ones. Broccoli casserole seems like it might be a southern thing, and I’m curious what everyone else gives and expects.
Failing that maybe someone has a better recipe for my casserole.