These people have made me the food-lover and cook that I am.
My great grandmother Philomena
There was only one way to cook our family’s sauce – her way and on Sundays. She looked just like Joe Pesci’s mother in Goodfellas – no joke. God, I miss that woman.
Dan’s Grandmother Evelyn
She’s 100 years old and still drinks whiskey. She’s had no fewer than 6 different names in her life and a big story for all of them. She passed in 2017 at the young age of 101. She was only answering to Zsa Zsa at that moment. She was never a big cook but she demanded the best wherever she goes. High standards make for a kickass female.
My grandfather Bill
My grandfather, who I loved dearly, and loved me dearly right back … he was a son-of-a-bitch, if I may. Not a warm-and-fuzzy kind of guy. He was a grumpy alcoholic with an amputated leg. He had a bb gun he shot from the kitchen window at squirrels to keep them away from his birdfeeder. That same man woke up at 4 am to make an apple pie for his grandkids if we were coming over. He taught me how to treat good cheese with respect and he made the best chicken soup I’ve ever had.
Full disclosure – we never met. But this guy I never really knew inspired us to travel to find the best food in the world, then return home for the same exact reason. At our wedding ceremony, our officiant was holding a copy of “Kitchen Confidential” instead of the Bible. You’ll hear plenty from him around here through a series of misquotes and blindly accepted opinions. The guy knew how to eat, cook, and travel – all my life’s goals.
The day he died was one of the sobbiest, saddest days of my life. I had a flight to catch so I just moped and sobbed unapologetically through the Detroit airport and couldn’t eat a thing. Now that almost a year has passed, I can say the loss has not gotten smaller. My idea of heaven is a dinner table where you get to pick the menu and the guest list – see you there, Tony.
My Aunt Denise
She’s Lebanese and Irish but she taught herself how to make the best pasta e fagioli in the entire family. She’s allowed my uncle to take credit for her cooking for 30 years. Everyone in the family knows what’s really going on.
My two grandmothers – Mary and Marilyn
They taught me not to mess with a recipe everyone loves. They also taught me it’s okay to cheat sometimes – cooking for your family is still cooking, even if it comes from a jar every so often. I also learned cooking is a great way to apologize (or at least call a truce) without actually having to say the words. They are both damn good at this move. I’m praying to every version of God that neither of them reads this. The point is – cooking and eating with your family is the highest showing of love you can offer. You’re literally helping to keep your people alive. Sometimes it’s flour-up-to-your-elbows-homemade, and sometimes it’s that awesome chicken place down the street. It’s all love here.