A Taste of Home by Robin Trimingham
This week I heard about a fantastic restaurant called Enoteca Maria on Staten Island, New York that features a different grandmother’s cooking every night of the week. Although most of the ladies who show up to take a turn in the kitchen are from the nearby neighborhoods of Brooklyn and The Bronx; meals have also been prepared by a slew of international by grannies from as far away as Japan, Syria, France, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Liberia, Kazakhstan, the Dominican Republic, Czechia, Belarus, and Pakistan.
Although Enoteca Maria started as a local Italian restaurant, their “Nonnas of the World” program serves up meals that are anything but local. The guest Grannies even offer free cooking lessons which enable “Nonnas in Training” to sign up for an opportunity to learn to cook signature dishes.
I can’t decide what I love most about this concept – the way traditional dishes from all over the world are being promoted and shared, or the way that ordinary women are being honored and appreciated for their homegrown culinary skills.
Talk about a great way to keep busy, share your knowledge, and earn a bit of extra pocket money! Imagine what a little diner like this could do for your home town? Imagine how exciting it would be for all the women to spend a day cooking up a storm in a proper restaurant kitchen.
This a great example of what older people can achieve when their skills are valued and their cultural roots are respected and is particularly noteworthy in today’s grab-n-go modern age, where younger people have an increasing tendency to microwave pre-cooked takeout meals instead of cooking from scratch.
What will they do when it’s finally their responsibility to cook a holiday meal for twenty people?
If you are reading this and thinking it might be time to start sharing a few of the secret recipes locked in your head, you might consider creating your own free online cookbook at a site such as cliptomize.com. Not only is this a great project to fill some time, you can share the link when you are finished and surprise everyone.
Don’t worry about doing yourself out of a job – we won’t tell them that good cooking takes practice and they are going to still need you to teach them how to make those signature dishes (g)
If you would like to try one of my grandmother’s best recipe’s, you can try your hand at making her famous caramels. They are so smooth and buttery you will never buy one from the store again:
Home Made Caramels:
- 1½ sticks butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 14 oz (one can) sweetened condensed milk
Melt the butter and sugar together in a metal pot over medium heat. Add the corn syrup and condensed milk and bring to a boil. Stir constantly for 15 minutes until the mixture is a rich golden color.
Pour into an 8” square foil lined baking dish. Let cool completely before cutting into bite size pieces and wrapping them in waxed paper. (Leave the pan in the fridge overnight before you cut it up if you want it to be easier to slice).
By Robin Trimingham