Our father has died. Thanks to the those of you who have sent us your thoughts and support. We are so touched that so many of you have done so.
The days since his death have been a whirlwind of mind boggingly complex administrative tasks, sorting through heaps of clothes and personal belongings and supporting our mother who is in bits. I never knew death would involve so much beaurocracy. So far, I haven't really had the time to mourn. I am in 'project manager' mode: organising, rationalising, making sure that loose ends are tied up and that my mother, when she is ready, will be able to make sense of everything.
My father loved rum babas. If you've never had one, I highly recommend it. It's a light, springy, brioche type cake drenched in a rum syrup. It's a burst of sweet, moist, squidgy, rummy goodness and I love it. I've never made a rum baba - there's a lot of kneading and proving involved and I always told myself that I could never do better than the delicious ones found in most patisseries across Italy. In the days following my father's death I was overcome with a very strong urge to make one.
I searched the internet for recipes and printed off the one which seemed to be the most 'authentic' (there are many variations on the rum baba recipe, I discovered) and borrowed a specially shaped cake tin from my aunt. Over the next few days, every time I decided I was ready to bake I found that I was either missing an ingredient or something came up that needed my urgent attention and the days slipped by and the rum baba didn't get made. The tin and the recipe sat in my mother's kitchen, waiting to be used.
In the end, I came home without having made it. I'm not sure why - maybe I'm resisting because somehow, when I do finally make it, I will be admitting to myself that my father really is no longer here. That he's gone, that he'll never taste it and enjoy it and share another rum baba with me. It also felt wrong, at some level, to be indulging in one of my favourite hobbies. How could I possibly want to bake when I'd just lost one of the most important people in my life?
A friend called me yesterday and as we talked about the pain of losing a parent she asked me what I was doing to support myself. She urged me to look after myself in some way. She said: "It's like Beyond Chocolate, take one tiny step. Do something - anything - for yourself, even if it's just for five minutes." When I set out to wrote this post I didn't really know where it was going. I just knew that I wanted to write about our father's death and my reluctance to bake a rum baba. But the conversation with my friend and putting all this into words has been incredibly useful. I know now what I need to do.
I'm going to make time to mourn my father in the best way I know how. I'm going to set aside a morning to make the rum baba. I will not answer the phone or check my emails. I won't tidy up or surf the internet while I wait for the dough to rise. I will allow myself to think of my father, to remember him and I will indulge in therapeutic baking and memories. I will make the most delicious rum baba I possibly can and then savour every bite. Knowing that he is somewhere watching and that he is happy to be honoured in this way with his favourite cake.
Thursday, 7 April 2011
Mourning...and a rum baba
Posted by Chocolate Fairy at 10:51
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So sorry for your loss, Sophie and Audrey. Thinking of you both, enjoy the baba!ReplyDelete
Oh dear .. I'm so sorry to read this. I think it's wonderful you have a delicious cake to honour his memory.ReplyDelete
I too will be thinking of you both, take good care of yourselves and just go slow.
I'm really really sorry to hear about your loss, I cannot even imagine how it must feel. I am glad you are taking some time for you, and to remember him in such a lovely way. my thoughts are with you and your family. love, lucilaReplyDelete
I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Thinking of you both. I hope the Rum Baba was as delicious as you hoped, and that your morning of taking time out to honour your late father helped you xxReplyDelete
This post brought me to tears. I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of your father. My thoughts go out to you both. xxReplyDelete
When my father died I went back to bed on a beautiful September morning and sat there with a pile of books, a pot of tea and a family size pack of maltesers. It was one of those times where food really is a comfort - even though his absolute favourite thing was not chocolate but a "Colonel" (French cafe staple dessert) which is a lemon sorbet with vodka. I just couldn't quite face making a Colonel and still have not done so a year later, but we're having a family gathering this weekend and reading your post has made me decide that now's the time. He is still with us in our love and memories as your father is with you.Take care honeys.ReplyDelete
As someone who has, for a lifetime (until discovering Beyond Chocolate), avoided feelings, I can only admire your courage and send you my condolences, my very best wishes and my heartfelt thanks for opening the door onto a world of wonders, some sad, but many joyful.ReplyDelete
my thoughts are with you at this difficult time. i lost my dad 17 years ago, he died very suddenly while on holiday in malta and i still miss him. his favourite treat was trifle and it was years before i was able to make a trifle and enjoy eating it. it was too painful to even think of it following his death, never mind actually eating it. but once i made the trifle (with lots of sherry, just how he liked it) i felt as if he was looking on with approval and i felt a connection with him. make a rum baba every week and send love to your dad as you enjoy it. the pain gets easier with time, be kind to yourselves and know that you are in my thoughtsReplyDelete
So sorry to hear your sad news, i think its a perfect way to mourn, enjoy every minute of your rum baba xReplyDelete
My Mom just passed on March 15th. While growing up, she cooked Italian professionally and at home (amongst other delights). A week after her death, a group of us dined in an Italian restaurant in her honor. We toasted her life and shared fond food memories. Cooking was her passion and a major way of expressing her love for all of us. I've already cooked a pot roast just the way she used to and I know she would have been pleased. Food seems to be such a comforting and appropriate way to remember our parents. I feel a great sense of pride knowing any of Mom's recipes. Thanks so much for the post :)ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry to hear that you have lost your father, Sophie and Audrey. What a lovely idea to bake a rum baba to connect with his memory and affirm his life.ReplyDelete
So so sorry to hear of your loss, Sophie and Audrey.ReplyDelete
I do hope that the rum baba worked out well.
Thinking of you,
I am so sorry for the loss of your father .The pain is so painful and it is incredibly difficult in my experience.Take care of yourselves in the best way you can and be kind .ReplyDelete
So sorry to hear of your loss, my Dad died last May and I can vividly remember the first few days and months. I bought CD's by The Beatles and Rod Stewart and played them a lot in the early days as he loved them both.ReplyDelete
I also had the urge to remember happy times so I went to John Lewis and bought loads of gorgeous photo frames and framed my favourite photos of him, including a gorgeous one of my Mum and dad on their wedding day.
Thinking of you both and your Mum
Life will never be the same but remembering the good times will keep him with you all
Thank you for a very emotional post and I'm really sorry to hear that your father has died. I can't offer any words that will help, but I am thinking of you both and can empathise. I hope that you will enjoy remembering your father in the best way you know how.ReplyDelete
So sorry for your loss :( What a beautiful way to honour his memory. I hope it's the first of many that you bake.ReplyDelete
Sophie and Audrey, really sorry to hear about your father. Thank you for a truly beautiful and inspiring post xReplyDelete
So sorry for your loss Sophie and Audrey. Its such an overwhelmingly sad time for you both but tender memories of your dad and the happy times you had with him will hopefully ease your pain. I'm sure he would be very, very proud of you and your way of honouring him. Thinking about you both. xxxReplyDelete
thinking of youReplyDelete
hope the rum baba is beautiful
So very sorry to hear about your father, Sophie and Audrey. Thinking of you and your whole family...ReplyDelete
Thinking of you both at this time and sending you a big hug, with love Nicky BReplyDelete
Thank you all so much for your messages of support, they mean a lot.ReplyDelete