Cookbook for the Dead

Nov. 2, All Souls Day

On the second day of Día de Muertos
I read that there really is a cookbook for the dead,
written, appropriately, by a Guadalajaran woman,

and immediately I want to buy it for you,
which is nuts, because you’ve been gone over
a year now, you who had the best cookbook

collection of anyone I know, a four-shelf
bookcase in the dining room, just around the corner
from the kitchen, where you could easily step

to retrieve a favorite. I, your cooking-impaired
BFF, now wish I had one of the books off
that shelf, remembering that one of your last

life lessons for me, as you lay within weeks
of the end, was dragging yourself up from
the sofa as we watched a cooking show,

you incredulous that I didn’t know what
it means to zest. Around the wall from
the bookcase, you retrieved three zesters

and a lemon grown on a tree in a pot
on your deck, and showed me how,
you leaning on the counter, me hovering.

How I’d love to transform that bookcase
into an ofrenda, an altar wearing marigolds
and a candle, offering hot cocoa dulce,

frijoles de olla—simple beans in a pot—
and a decorated sugar skull not
for eating—you’d chip a tooth—

and certainly something into which I’d
zested a lemon, trying to guess what
foods might lure your soul back.

Amaranth skull / Mariana Nuño-Ruiz McEnroe & Ian McEnroe
from Dining With the Dead by Mariana Nuño-Ruiz McEnroe

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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5 Responses to Cookbook for the Dead

  1. Gloria Beverage says:

    So poignant…sweet. Thanks for sharing this lovely memory.

  2. Shelley Mydans says:

    How wonderful!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Dick says:

    This touches the soul…

  4. buzzardnotes says:

    This is wonderful and so touching. Your BFF would have loved it.

  5. lbk53 says:

    This one really touched me Jan. ❤️Linda K

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