Lessons in Food: Gleanings from living with my Grandparents

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

XC: Raleigh

It’s been a while. I’ve gone through a huge life transition since I last wrote. Things have drastically changed. I graduated college, said farewell to my friends that had become family, left behind my favorite neighborhoods, coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries as I moved away from my favorite city in America (Charleston, y’all). Got snappy business cards at my first job in public relations and  moved to another southern city (Raleigh, North Carolina). So you can see, there wasn’t much time to write. But, of course, there is always time to eat.

Raleigh in itself has been a transition. I have tried to place my finger on it, and I don’t know what’s different. Is it me? Is it the city? Is it the mere fact that I am a working woman?

I need to document, though the list is never-ending, things that I miss about Charleston.

The smell of hydrangea wafting through the cobblestone streets, the incredible friendliness of each and every person you pass, the sea breeze as you lean against the cold fence at the battery, taking a walk just because you know that you will notice thousands of details you’ve never noticed on a Charleston Single even though you’ve walked by it everyday. I miss my favorite coffee shop (cheers Black Tap), neighborhood animals that felt like my own because of our daily interactions (and the occasional treats I’d bring them from the Farmers Market)….the Saturday morning Farmers Market. I miss the shops, my backyard full of shady palmettos, my boyfriends porch over the busy corner store. I could go on and on…

The good news, I will be back. I have never been so sure of anything in my life. Charleston has my heart.

But, it is on to my next “cross-country”. I was looking forward to discovering new haunts in Raleigh, but have yet to find anything that has wowed me. Am I not looking in the right places? I’m sure. Raleigh is completely reminiscent of my hometown, a city in Northern Virginia, sans traffic but with no city. I know what you’re saying! Raleigh is a city!! It is lacking the pizzaz and electricity of NYC, Charleston, DC. It is lacking charm*.

*Charm is solely an opinion of Corianna, she knows many people who adore Raleigh

So, I have made it my mission to put on some red lipstick, and pull it together. I am seeking all suggestions for exciting things to do in Raleigh and counting on you to help.

After all, Raleigh chef Ashley Christensen did win James Beard Award “Best Chef Southeast”….

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Update: It has been less than 24 hours since I posted this, and I have had a lot of really great feedback that recent grads are in the same boat….and it’s wildly comforting. Overwhelmingly, it seems that everyone has been trying to cope with the fact that, “OMG, we work 9-5? Is this what the rest of our life looks like? Soon we will be married and have children and mortgages and have to pay taxes….” but what I am slowly learning is that nothing is permanent. My mom (praise that woman) sent me this quote yesterday that just seems so fitting, so I thought I would do my good deed of the day and share it with you all. XC

“I beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Do not search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
– Rilke