FFWD – Salmon with Basil Tapenade

Tapenade "sauce" over salmon.

The first time I made this dish was not long after French Fridays began. A friend of ours was living with cancer and was slowly beginning to let go. I started going over regularly to cook for her and Kevin would join me when his work schedule allowed. Another friend of hers had organized a rotation using Lotsa Helping Hands, so that folks didn’t show up all at once on one day and leave her hanging another. I was holding onto a lot of denial, which was fed by the fact that this had all happened before – the decline, the rotation – and she’d bounced back miraculously. By the end of the year, though, she was gone. Many of the first several months of French Fridays recipes were shared with her. They have a bittersweetness for me now. I also have her assessment of those recipes in the back of my mind – this one was too oily (I used a lot less olive oil this time), the Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans were actually a dessert, she wouldn’t change a thing about the Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots.

The timing of this week’s dish is perfect – last weekend was the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and she devoured it passionately every year. Jeanne was a foodie, an explorer, a self-described “culture vulture,” and a seeker of healing and wisdom. She was fiercely opinionated, always ready for adventure, and deeply committed to her friends. The world is less for not having her in it, but it seems as though there are traces of her everywhere, in the festivals, art shows and Pride marches; the waterways she kayaked up and down BC’s coast; the roads across the province she knew as well as the locals. I think of her often, especially when I go to an art show or try a new restaurant. Nothing got her as excited as trying something new, unless it was taking off into the wilderness for a while.

Memory is wrapped up in the senses. One of the reasons I love cooking and baking for those I love is that it helps build those memories for me and for them. When Jeanne died, she left me some of her kitchen equipment and some of her camera equipment. I like the connection that’s made between my blogging and my memories of her.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Salmon with Basil Tapenade

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14 thoughts on “FFWD – Salmon with Basil Tapenade

  1. Oh Teresa, what a sweet and poignant post. I actually teared up a little reading this. I’m so sorry that you lost your friend. She sounds like an amazing person who really touched your life. I think that it is nice how certain foods or songs or places bring back such memories.

  2. This is a beautiful post. You are right – cooking creates memories with family and friends that live on long after the food itself has been eaten.

  3. Teresa – lovely post. I never realized how food could trigger memories until I started writing about them & have found it a meaningful way to stay connected with the past while building the memories of the future.

  4. Teresa, so sorry that you lost your friend Jeanne to cancer. a strange coincidence of the timing of your post. my friend and culinary mentor has had a recurrence. I visited him on my trip to Portland, but am not able to help (his local friends are using Lotsa Helping Hands too). but I think my daughter is going to provide a meal for him this week on my behalf. he and I both have currant shrubs, and I think of him every time I picked the currants, or make something out of them now. I know I will always cherish those memories.

  5. What a lovely post, Teresa, and may you always carry those wonderful memories and honor your friend Jeanne by writing about them. Not much else to say about this Post but it was superb and thoughtful. I admire you more because of reading it.

  6. Teresa, I was very touched by your thoughtful and loving post about your friend. It sounds like the two of you shared an unbelievable frienship.

  7. What a beautiful testament to life and friendship. I can appreciate your connection between food and memories, that is so true but I never really thought about it until you wrote about it. I hope I will remember the website Lotsa Helping Hands hoping I will never need it but somehow knowing that real life will require me to. I enjoyed the remembrances you shared and I know using some of her cooking equipment brings you joy. I think Dorie would be happy to know that her recipes helped someone gastronomically and perhaps mentally as well.

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