The GM's maternal grandfather died this afternoon. Of all the people on that side of her family he was the one I most enjoyed spending time with. If we had been contemporaries though I don't think we would have gotten along. He probably would have wanted to kick my ass.
He was a sailor, a drunk and a cook. He cooked in the navy, the merchant marines, in diners and fine dining all around Boston and later on the West Coast and Southwest. He looked just like the guy on the packages of Cap'n Hank's clams.
The last time I saw him, around the Christmas holiday two years ago, he tried to give me an old cookbook of his. I didn't take it. Not because I didn't want the book. I did. I'm a fiend for cookbooks. But because I wanted him to have it in case he decided to travel through his kitchen memories.
The cookbook was a garde manger book geared to buffet production and presentation. What we would think of as cruise ship or country club food these days. What was really wonderful about it though was the wide selection of offal offered. Tongue, brains, kidneys, tripe, sausages galore. There were even recipes for opossum and squirrel.
We have become a very unadventurous country food-wise. For all the press El Bulli and other palaces of molecular gastronomy get you'd think we we'd be a nation ready to eat anything. But try to sell tongue, or heart. I know, I know. Incanto has it on the menu. I had heart there on my last visit. But I wonder how many orders they sell.
I'm glad the GM got to see her grandfather before he died. They sent me a video via camera phone of him saying hi to me. I'm glad she got to do that too. Now she will have to go back to Idaho and try to help her mom and sister deal with each other and with their grief. I don't know if I'll be part of the trip or not. I'll just be taking direction and trying to be of service where I can.
I am sad he never got to see his granddaughter's restaurant. I'm sure the salty old guy had plenty to show us.