Arts & Culture | Food

The Taste of Grief: On Family Meals, Marriage, and Mourning

I want to be the bridge between his memory and her love for cooking.

Where my grandmother comes from, stews and soups are spiced heavily and packed with aromatic meats and silky tomatoes, served in large bowls fit for royalty. They are seasoned with onions and bell peppers and simmered with herbs until reaching saucy, deep red perfection. When the soup is done, it is eaten with a starchy, bland component that leaves you feeling grounded and whole: boiled green plantains, steamed white rice, pounded fufu, or orbs of banku—fermented corn cooked and rolled into large, edible snowballs.

A visit to Grandma’s house always meant diving into an authentic Ghanaian dining experience. But this changed when my grandfather, the love of her life, passed away not too long ago. My grandfather was her number one reason to cook. He ate everything she made, from fried fish to meaty soups and complex, chunky stews. Now that he is not here, she no longer has a muse. Now her meals, once vibrant, fresh, and flavorful, are often soggy, limp, and lifeless. Her soups swim with meats that lived in the freezer for weeks, wilted vegetables on the brink of mushing into inedibility. Now, a trip to my grandmother’s house means inspecting everything I eat and wondering where her magic has gone.