On my new show, My Grandmother’s Ravioli, I’m learning how to cook from the experts — grandmothers and grandfathers who let me into their kitchens to share their wisdom. Here are 5 things they’ve taught me:
1. I learned from Ruth that gefilte fish is not an actual fish. (All you AP bio students out there, quit checking your taxonomy. It ain’t there.)
2. I learned from 91-year-old Gaetano Varbero how to fire a shotgun. (How else were we going to make venison stew?) Gaetano drives a pickup truck. He makes his own ammo. As I type this, he’s elk-hunting in Colorado. Did I mention he’s 91?
3. I learned a really great dirty joke from Tom Napolitano. Three guys from different armies were in a, um, “cathouse.” One was running up the stairs, one was running down the stairs. The other was behind a closed door. The first was a Russian, the second was Finnish and the third? Himalayan. (Mary, his wife of 62 years, rolls her eyes at this one.) We also made manicotti.
4. I learned from best friends — and grandmothers — Meena and Mona that the creamy heavy stuff we know as Indian food is Punjabi. Meena and Mona are Maharashtrian (from the region that includes Mumbai). Their food is much lighter, but still spicy and savory. Oh, and calling the cuisine “Indian food” is sort of like lumping German and Spanish food together and calling it “European food.”
5. I’ve learned that being a grandparent is almost all upside. (Being a parent is much more complicated.) Don’t get me wrong, I want to have kids. But if there were a way to jump right to the grandparent part? (Figure that one out, AP bio students.)
My Grandmother’s Ravioli premieres Wednesday, October 24 at 8:30pm ET.