Farewell Sam

sam and pastaMy father, Samuel Bahadurian, loved food and cooking.  In yesterday’s In The Kitchen column (written a couple weeks ago), I reminisced about how excited he was to buy cabbage at under 10 cents per pound this time of year.

He passed away peacefully, at almost 90, on Thursday, so several people have remarked to me what a coincidence this was, and my response is that surely he is at the big Supermarket In The Sky now, happily stocking up on bargain cabbage and whatever else appeals to him.  And when he meets up with my more practical mother, she will likely remonstrate, “Oh Sam! What are you going to do with so much food?!”

He would spend a whole morning visiting ShopRite, McCaffrey’s, and the Pennington Market, or maybe the Trenton Farmers Market.  He’d triumphantly arrive home with his haul, have lunch, then head into the kitchen to start cooking, making enough for a small army even when it was just him and my mother in the house.

He was in nirvana at family gatherings grilling shish kebab or butterflied leg of lamb, and at the old Hospital Fête  he volunteered to barbecue chicken or shuck clams to be served on the half-shell, which I adored.  (Since he owned the family rug business, E. Bahadurian & Son, he also constantly fielded inquiries about what to do with someone’s damaged or dirty rugs.  I still get calls asking about that to this day, myself! Try Tashjian’s in Trenton.)

He took his love of food and cooking wherever he went, including the several weeks each summer spent at Hiram Blake Camp in Maine.  I’ve already received a tearful email from a fellow camper who knew him for many years, mentioning the stuffed mussels he loved to make up there (he took his Cuisinart!) to share with others.  When I visited my parents at camp, he made sure I had a lobster dinner plus lobster rolls or fried belly clams at lunch.  When he returned from Maine in August, he’d call my brother Mark and me to come pick up lobster and mussels he’d brought home, and when I lived in Colorado, he made sure to have a lobster dinner whenever I came East for a visit.

Then there was the time I came home from work to my cottage in Princeton Junction and found a huge porterhouse steak in my refrigerator – the nearby Acme was having a steak sale, and my father, who had a key to my place, couldn’t resist.  When he got back from a long day’s fishing trip out of Barnegat with a cooler full of cleaned bluefish, he’d drive around dropping some off at several households where he knew they’d be welcome, because we’d have more than we could possibily use ourselves.

He really was one in a million, and I’ve been so busy consoling family and friends that I’m only now getting around to writing this.  We’re a no-funeral family, so, besides the post here, I will memorialize him the best way I know how, through food: I’ll get into the kitchen to do just a little cooking soon.

(I have recycled this 1980s photo from a December post here, taken during my father’s pasta-making period and hilariously staged with all the wines they had on hand!)

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