Grandpa made beef stew today! In our family, Grandpa is a renowned beef stew chef. Grandpa started making beef stew when he took over the cooking from Grandma. Grandma cooked until Husband’s sister went to university. From then on, almost all cooking was done by Grandpa. The only thing about Grandpa’s cooking was that he had a limited range of dishes that he prepared, most featuring beef or salmon. When Grandpa was young, his father was in the poultry business. Boiled chicken was a constant childhood meal. Grandpa never eats chicken now.
Recently, Grandpa has cooked little. He still makes small things, like heating Campbell’s Hearty Vegetable Soup in a pan on the stove. Even then, we keep a keen eye out, lest he forget to turn off the flame.
Today, however, Grandpa made delicious stew start to stop. Grandpa began by helping me chop potatoes and peel carrots. It was as if his muscle memory activated his brain. Soon, a pile of uniformly cut vegetables was waiting. Just as I was about to start sautéing onions. Grandpa insisted he could take over, and with me as sous-chef, before long an aromatic stew was slipping into the preheated stove.
Dinner – which Grandpa was well enough to stay for – was a celebratory affair! We all thought that Grandpa had outdone himself, and that his beef stew had never tasted so good. Grandpa soaked up the praise, quite chuffed. After dinner, we even played a quick Scrabble game, with words being placed on the board, and not on the box top.
I am happy. The boys are doing their homework. The dishes are clean. It is just gone 7:00. Relaxing in an armchair, I sip chamomile tea and enjoy the stillness. In the background, Grandpa’s classical music plays. The music lingers softly, as if a part of Grandpa remains in his absence.