Since October, it has been difficult for me to sit down and write for this blog, or even cook an inspiring new meal. In my family, there was always a cooking matriarch, my grandmother, Serafina Nankervis. In previous posts, I mentioned that she taught us all we knew about Italian cooking, but she was also an avid reader, if not the only reader, of my blog. She fiercely loved her family. She was relentlessly proud of the cooks in our family, and credited it to our Italian heritage. Last August, she was diagnosed with cancer, which very rapidly took over her vibrant life. We lost her in October.
It is quite unusual to be blessed with having your grandparents so active in your life, especially entering your thirties. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to live near them, while I attended graduate school. I lunched with them every Friday, where Grandma would make the world’s best sandwich, which she was not modest about- at all. We sat and talked, sometimes joined by A., about their lives before children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I learned so much about my grandparents, and how they started their lives together. Although Serfina loved her family, and was the first to ensure we were together for all occasions, there was more to her than familial traditionalism. My Grandmother was a working woman, an award winning artist, a talented cook, and a funny story teller. Growing up, we painted with her, attended gallery openings, and spent every Christmas at her house. My last memory of her, well my last memory before the horrible cancer news, was sitting on my parents patio with her. My Grandfather and her best friend joined us, talking about politics, my PhD program, sewing, cooking, and the arts. Having tea with the June sun on our faces, I remember thinking how lucky I was to have grandparents who were so interesting and interested.
I don’t have many memories without her, and now I am marking a new stage in my life where she won’t be able to participate. We were able to tell her about the new baby, but the new baby will miss knowing her. Lately, I slowly started making things from scratch again, and I am interested in new foods. My new pregnancy diet is cracking up our family, including my Grandfather who watched me eat meat and chocolate at Christmas, a shocking site for people who have known me all my life, and my Grandmother would have found hysterical. I am hoping my cooking lull was just a form of mourning. It is time to nag my mother for my grandmother’s recipes, so I can ensure Serafina is always present, while we are making new memories with Mini-Minard.