I never learned to cook, but I have always known how to eat and I am quite good at it. Thanks in great part to my Nana who always made sure I ate very well growing up. Chicken cacciatore. Stuffed peppers. Antipasto. Cheese blintzes. Matzo balls. Kasha and bows. Salmon croquettes. Knishes. Coffee cake. Fruit cake. Brownies. You name it… she cooked it… and I ate it.
In my youth, I would probably have described Nana simply as an “old” – and sometimes frail – gray-haired woman who doted on her grandchildren, enjoyed doing crossword puzzles, and watching television shows like “Jeopardy” and “Candlepins for Cash.” Of course, I also knew my Nana was someone with a tremendous love and talent for cooking.
There’s a different side to my father’s mother, however, that I began to understand only as I got older. For while I had the real privilege of knowing and loving my grandmother for some 22 years, it took decades... and sifting through boxes and boxes of keepsakes and remnants of the past... for me to truly appreciate what a complex, unique, and adventurous woman she truly was.
For a good portion of my life, Nana was just Nana. Who even suspected she had both a first and a last name? Nana was always simply Nana. But my Nana was so much more.
* © Teri Hegarty. Selections from "Nana's Spice for Life" have been abridged/revised for www.seasonedtimes.com
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