For those of you that don’t know, I lived with my grandparents for the last three months. I get mixed reactions when I tell people this, everything from “bet you’re excited to get out of there” to “enjoy the time with them.” The truth is: I loved every minute of it. Even when my grandparents bickered over the daily trials of living together for over 50 years, I found solace in being surrounded by two people who have seen so much and care so much about me.
Though I lived with them, we didn’t see too much of each other as I work during the days. The two definitive times we spent together were breakfast and dinner.
Breakfast normally went something like this: I would sneak down the stairs to hear my grandmother sweetly say, “Do I hear a mouse?” I would then pop an espresso pod into the machine and decide between the breakfast options I knew my grandmother had spent hours carefully choosing at the grocery. My grandma always stocks fresh fruit, varieties of bread and endless options of cereal, so the decision, while not easy, made breakfast feel like a treat. We even made up a few recipes as the summer passed, our favorite being fruit salad on top of waffles with no syrup, just sweetened by the natural taste of the fruit. This was especially enjoyable for my diabetic grandmother who didn’t have to miss out on yet another tasty bite of Canadian maple syrup. At some point in my meal, she would go out to grab the paper and assess the weather, and return, inquisitive as to what I had made. The look of pleasure of her grocery shopping success was enough to make my day.
Dinner was my grandpa’s domain. The third thing he decided when he woke up was what was for dinner–after what to wear and if he should bike or swim. I kid you not. So, off to work I went fully anticipating my grandpa’s dinner when I was to return home that evening. My grandpa, or rather, Chef Arthuro, is an amazing cook. I imagine some of his culinary excellence has been acquired by his extensive travels and is in his blood, and therefore in mine. He grew up in Brooklyn, rode his bike through Europe and went on several medical missions to Pakistan and India. He took things away from each that translate to his cooking. Not to mention, his career as a surgeon gives him the cutting credentials in the kitchen.
Dinner was served promptly when I got home, the meal ready to go at the exact moment I entered the door, with a table beautifully set by my grandma. Favorite meals? Salmon Arthuro and Eggplant Arthuro. Sorry, I am not permitted to share the recipe.
Dinner was followed by a variety of cheese that my grandpa and I washed down with wine and after a clap and the posed the question of “how many coffees?”, my Gramps would quickly run to the bathroom to brush his teeth, or “cleanse his palette” for dessert. Watermelon, Klondike bars, and Bosch pears covered in Grand Marnier were our favorites.
Eating with my grandparents taught me to slow down and enjoy conversation. No phones allowed, no rushing through a meal to watch a TV show. You sit, you have conversation and you digest.
The stories that were shared, the love that went into making each meal, and sitting between my two healthy grandparents…reflecting on it, these meals were the best part of my summer.