My last remaining grandparent passed away back in February. This was my grandma aka “mahmah”, my dad’s mom. I saw her pretty much every single day from the time I was born until I moved out of my parents house at age 21.
Some people aren’t close to their grandparents and some people are very good friends with their grandparents. I can’t really say that we fell into either category. My grandma didn’t speak English and I only speak a limited amount of Cantonese so it’s not like we had very meaningful conversations. She wasn’t like my mom and dad who would praise or punish me. She was just there, always, and ready to give. Mostly, she would give food.
Grandma didn’t make traditional chow mein or artfully steamed fish, well she did but that wasn’t what I liked about her cooking, she would make dishes like ground pork and shrimp omelets! Salty wontons in soup! “Spanish” rice with cut up hot dogs! Curry! Battered and fried stuffed eggplant!
These are the familiar, possibly provincial, possibly just resourceful, dishes that I grew up eating and this is today my “comfort food”. Of course, nobody knows how to make this stuff in the family, nobody wanted to learn I guess. All the dishes were just so weird and so very “grandma” I’m sure no one ever though “Oh yes, this will be a good dish to share… with people.” No, it was just dinner, good old weird dinner dishes.
Sometimes I remember that she won’t be cooking for me anymore and that thought is enough to bring me to tears. It’s not that I only miss by grandmother for her cooking, it’s just that grandma and food go hand in hand and it very much the core of the grandma experience. I miss pretty much everything about her sometimes and it feels like this void that can never be filled again.