I never knew how I would deal with loss. I’ve seen others in grieving; some turn reclusive, letting emotions eat away inside, while others let them show outward. I guess I’m lucky to be 21 years old and never have had cause to suffer through grieving emotions. Not everyone I know can say that.
Today I did experience loss; the loss of a pet, our Bailey. My family and I treat our dogs like humans and equals and our attachments to them are enormously strong. The death of Bailey has therefore hit hard. He’s in a better place now, no longer in pain, but it will take a long time before I can get used to walking in the door and seeing only one dog at my feet rather than the normal two.
We cried, sat in silence, and even laughed some as we recounted memories. And then he was buried in the back yard. You can see him from the windows of our back room and our other dog has spent the entire day sitting on the back of the couch and staring at the little mound of dirt in the distance.
Instinctively I turned to cooking as a way to relieve the stress and the emotion. I needed something to do with my hands, something methodical, a mind-numbing cathartic sort of activity. I needed steam to rise from a pot and warm my heart, easing the ache. I needed rich smells to drench me in comforting calm. So I made gnocchi, letting thoughts settle as I rolled each piece mindlessly across a fork. And to go with the gnocchi, a rich beef ragout.
The recipe is here, though I made a few adjustments. I used stewing beef instead of venison and for the gnocchi, I used all-purpose flour, the whole egg, and added a handful of Parmesan to the dough as well. The gnocchi turned out a little gloopy but it didn’t really matter. The beef ragout, however, was deep and multilayered in flavor. The intensity of it brought out a spiciness of sorts and the beef tenderized wonderfully. The onion flavor was strong, but sweet, while nice red wine and bacon added lingering hints of smokiness. I went back for seconds, thirds, letting the warm broth wash away some pain. It was just what we needed after some very long and difficult last few days of eating nothing but peanut butter toast. It by no means solved the problem, but it certainly made things a little better.