My grandparents' food is home to me, as simple as that. And whenever I think of it, I always picture our kitchen during one family party or another, a 12-hour marathon of food and drink, the appetizers laid out and King Dad’s Steak roasting on Christmas Eve, candles lit, a growing din of stories rising, passed between siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins, and the Bears game on somewhere in the background. The women are circling the oven, drinking, laughing, cooking, dancing, singing made up lyrics to West Side Story tunes; dish towels slung over shoulders to dry. The men are around the table telling familiar stories again and opening another bottle and pouring everyone more wine. Nana is forever delivering hugs and kisses in the narrow alley between the oven and the island, licking the cooked bones clean and spilling the moment her apron is removed, every single time. Papa is busy demonstrating the best way to chop an onion, slice the sopressata, wrap a napkin just so around your drink, or add a dash, a pinch of this or that, and there you go!
I started this project because I didn't know how to cook and one day I realized all my favorite meals traced back to home... and no one had written all the recipes down! Suddenly it alarmed me that they could disappear; also that I was 25 and couldn't bake chicken. A few years later, I'm happy to say we've made progress on both fronts.
So from our kitchen to yours, as Nana would say, "Alright now, everybody dig in!"
(Endless thanks to the incredible women in my family, but especially to my Nana and Papa and to my friend Josh @ www.joshmisthal.com for so vividly bringing this idea to life with design.)