What my grandparents taught me about food.

Meet my family, circa 1940s:

I love these pictures! They are all framed and displayed on the bookcases in our den.

I was blessed with the most amazing grandparents, and even more fortunate they were local. I spent loads of time with each of them. To say they were a big influence would be an understatement.

I thought it would it would be interesting to look at one big way each of them is still a part of me through their outlook on food. Without further adieu:

Sara, aka Gran: Be resourceful, never wasteful.

This photo is a teeny-tiny me. Gran is a baby whisperer. She loves rocking little ones and they love being in her lap. I’ll admit that I plopped myself on her chair well into college. She’s only 5 feet tall, so I fit! One should be careful–she keeps scissors in between the cushions for her needlework.

My mom’s parents farmed on a portion of their 80 acres. Granddad had a long and successful career as a business owner, but he came home to work the fields as “relaxation.” Gran is a wizard at canning that produce so that nothing goes to waste. She also taught me to reuse leftovers. You’ve got some random veggies in the fridge? Gran will make you vegetable soup, served alongside her famous cornbread.

Glenn, aka Granddad: The fresher the better.

Here I am with Granddad. We’re picking vegetables with my cousin in the first picture and holding my namesake goat in the second. (What? There were too many goats and we ran out of names!) It’s from Granddad that I get my love of all things outdoors and my sense of curiousity. He was forever experimenting, and I was often first assistant.

Granddad loved to eat straight from the vine. He was the first person I ever saw making a smoothie, but I don’t think the word “smoothie” existed at that point. He called it his “health shake.” Carrots + bananas? I was horrified! Granddad said it was all going to the same place. He was ahead of his time!

Together, we ate raw green peas straight from the pod, and peaches still warm from the sun. They broke the mold when they made that man. I miss him every day.

Edward, aka BigDad: Mealtime is for family. Don’t be in a rush.

When Big Dad was working (he and my Dad owned a business together for years) he was working hard. And when he was relaxing, he did that right too.

As a World War II Army engineer, Big Dad built air strips in exotic places. He was appointed wait staff and learned to appreciate finer things. Back at home, Big Dad took his time, enjoying the beautiful meals my Gramsie cooked. He sat at the head of the table, carefully selecting, then seasoning his food. It was a family pun that Big Dad would start eating when the rest of the family was halfway finished. He savored his food and the people he ate with.

Kathleen, aka Gramsie: Presentation counts. 

Isn’t my Gramsie lovely? She was born in England and married Big Dad during WWII. She was promptly shipped home to his family farm in Mississippi. Can you imagine the shock?

Gramsie carried her elegant British accent all the way through her life. She had a knack for making things beautiful and special. In the picture above, she’s relaxed in the kitchen cooking a Christmas dinner. Looking at her there, you’d never know the amount of work she put into setting a gorgeous table filled with old family recipes.

I’d like to think I inherited Gramsie’s love of entertaining. After we lost her, I was the recipient of her fabulous dining room suit, crystal and sterling flatware. I hope I can give my family the same kind of beautiful holiday memories she gave us.

Did your grandparents live close by? How did they influence the way you eat? 


8 thoughts on “What my grandparents taught me about food.

  1. This is beautiful, Britt. Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories with us. You are luckier than most kids to have known all four of your grandparents so well and to have had each of them contribute so much.

    My Big Mama Tillie is my inspiration in the kitchen. Some of her dishes I’ve been making for years, others I’m just discovering now. I’m making them my own (nothing I make will ever taste as good as Mama’s!), and I’m lucky to be able to share my versions of her recipes with her. She’ll be 97 next month.

    My family went to Mama and Papa’s when we were kids in the 80s every Friday night for Shabbat dinner. I used to sleep over after dinner, and some of my fondest memories come from those special weekends with my grandparents.

    My favorite is Mama’s brisket. That might be the one dish I make that holds a candle to Big Mama’s. 😉

  2. I loved reading your response! Sleeping over with the grandparents was one of my favorites, too! There was a bed, but I always begged for the pull out couch. Go figure.

    Have you blogged your recipe for Mama’s Brisket? I’d love to try it for the Vore man…

  3. Tears!!! Love your pictures of your grandparents! You know I copied you when I saw yours in your home and now have an entire table of old family pictures! My family is also copying you by having lunch at Grandma’s every Sunday! Their Love and Personality shine through you all the time! So proud of you friend!

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