Shakhshūkha in the Wind

The Shakhshūkha is Blowin’ in the Wind

I haven’t written anything on this blog for a few months or so. When inspiration is abundant it can be a world beater. In its absence there seems little but dark matter devoid of any colour. The last few months, in terms of writing, have been a mixture of both sides. I once read that one of the rules of a blog is not to explain why one has not written a post for a while, the reason being that no one cares – they just want relevant content. I write about food and cooking and therefore I have always felt that anything outside of this scope was not really relevant to post on Duck and Roses. However, I think the scope can be extended once in a while if needs be, especially if one can convey some personal experience that may be of interest and in some cases inspire the reader.

My father passed away in August last year and I was fortunate, and not so fortunate, to be there by his side when he died, after a journey from the opposite side of the planet. Cancer is such a wicked, wicked disease and when it grabs hold of someone so healthy it is truly heartbreaking to see; when that someone is your father then it hurts very much.

I arrived three days before he passed away. He was barely able to speak but on my arrival looked up, smiled and muttered,

“You look just like my eldest son”. He hadn’t lost his dry sense of humour.

Apparently during the last hours and days the senses begin to shut down one by one with the hearing the last to go. On the Friday before he died I put some music on to soothe the suffering, music that was a throwback to my father’s student days; The Doors, Bob Dylan, Donovan and others.  Thankfully my father was permitted to stay home during his final days, in a bed in his living room. The sun poured in during the afternoons followed by slightly cool breezes that drifted in through the patio doors, causing the drawn back curtains to gracefully swirl. The shadows of clouds could be seen racing along the Peak District in the background. There were 3 or 4 of us in the room at a time during the day, keeping my father company and ensuring he was as comfortable as could possibly be. Food had been the last thing on my mind.

But on that Friday afternoon in a fit of inspiration I felt like cooking; mainly out of a need to bring as much normality as possible to a difficult time but also through the necessity to eat. There were a couple of dozen eggs in my father’s kitchen so with the help of my 6 year old niece, I cooked. I cooked a dish I had cooked during the World Cup, Shakhshūkha*. The experience was a little surreal but immensely therapeutic. Everyone ate and there was an air of joviality. My father looked over and smiled, knowing that he couldn’t participate but content that his family were there together and with him by his side.

My father passed away on the Sunday, on a beautiful English summer’s day to Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.

For the rest of the trip I had a reinvigorated inspiration for food; from Yorkshire, my home, to Heston Blumenthal and then to magical Canada (and the discovery of spicy maple syrup salmon jerky).

The new inspiration has led to me working on a new way of approaching cooking and I intend to use the experience to write and present a course in the near future. But until then, rest in peace dad.

*recipe can be found here.

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