In the midst of an otherwise delightfully slow and snowy week, my grandmother passed away, and I found myself baking a cake for our family to eat after the funeral. I didn't have time, inclination, or ingredients to make the cake very fancy, but that's not the point. Food is comfort, both cooking it and eating it. And for me, in a difficult time, it offered a chocolatey catharsis.
Baking, for me at least, takes intense focus, and so for that hour, I didn't think about anything else. I measured, and stirred, beat and folded. The experience wasn't perfect - I cracked an egg too aggressively and got yoke in my whites and later managed to create a choc-splosion in which I got chocolate nearly everywhere. But as I slipped the cake into the oven and licked my fingers, the spatula and the bowl, for a brief moment I didn't have a care in the world beyond cleaning up the mess I'd made. Baking took me away from reality, and for that I'm very thankful.
And tomorrow as we say goodbye to my grandmother and comfort each other with kind words, I hope my chocolate cake will do its part and offer some fudgy solace to those who loved her. Grandma always did love sweets, and although my cake didn't turn out very pretty, I bet she would have liked it.