What 40 of the World’s Grandmothers Taught Me About Love
I set out to write a book about food. The love lessons were a welcome side dish.
Locked in a bathroom, hot tears streaming down my face, I felt like my heart was on fire. As I listened to my best friend’s grandmother describe the moment her husband of 60 years died in front of her, I realized how important the project we’d embarked on together was. In a year, we’d unwittingly collected relationship advice from the world’s top marriage experts. But the experts weren’t couples counselors — they were grannies.
The Grand Dishes (soon to be book) began as a personal project to finally gather all of my Greek grandmother’s recipes interspersed with her insights on life (sometimes philosophical, other times blunt and cutting). After discussing the idea with my best friend Iska Lupton, whose German granny is equally gifted in the kitchen, we set about cooking with as many grandmothers as we could find.
We began with our networks, asking friends if they had a special granny who might let us share a day in the kitchen with them. Soon enough, people caught wind of what we were doing and began reaching out to us.
We traveled from the U.K. to Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Cuba, the U.S., Mexico, and Russia to cook with grandmothers of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Each visit lasted a weekend. We picked up more than just culinary tips.
One year after we began, we were eating Colombian Ajiaco (chicken soup with potatoes and corn) with Abuela Gloria and her English husband John at their farmhouse in Wales. Fat, salty tears mingled with the rich flavors of the soul-filling chicken soup Gloria cooked. I cried again. This time, it was because of the way that John looked at Gloria and how highly she spoke of him. After 50 years of marriage, they were like teenagers.