I’m not quite sure what or whom this stranger is. Is it who she became through her illness? Is it the cancer that eventually killed her? Or is it me, left standing in my mother’s kitchen wondering what to do next? Perhaps it’s the grief, this crippling feeling I hadn’t had the pleasure to meet before, and wish I never had.
I stood staring at the boxes and boxes of her recipes; a lifetime’s collection of being a head chef. Described as ‘the doyenne of the British restaurant revolution’ I felt the need to do something with all this, for her and for myself. Food was at the centre of our relationship, she taught me so much, but there was still so much we didn’t get round to, her illness got in the way in the end.
So I cooked food, I learnt to grow food, I photographed the process and wrote about my grief. It was my way through it all, it distracted me from the pain whilst also allowed me to process it. The plates of food were haunted with memories, the smells took me back to moments we shared like nothing else, but the more I did it, the more I felt closer to my mother. But this is no cookbook. It’s my ongoing journey through grief and through my mother’s life, whilst learning about my new life as a daughter without a mother.
This is a work in progress; I continue to discover new recipes so can't quite bring myself to stop. I plan to make it into a book, perhaps to give it an ending. It’s all been about saying goodbye to grief, so maybe it's the right time to finally bid it farewell.