Growing up in a large Italian family, we would gather nearly every Sunday at my Grandma Susie’s house for dinner. “Dinner” is probably an understatement… It was more like a feast! She made the most incredible meals and desserts. Even her salad dressing was to die for! No matter what she prepared, I don’t ever recall being disappointed. What I do recall is a sense of gratitude and fulfillment from both the company and the cuisine. These are truly some of my fondest memories of my grandmother.
In college, I was assigned to write a children’s book for one of my education courses. I chose to create a book that included a collection of her recipes. The book was entitled What’s Cooking at Big Sue’s House? I dedicated a page to each family and also included her recipe for their favorite meal.
When I asked her for the list of recipes, she said she needed time to get them together. She took several weeks to draft them. To my surprise, they were written more like stories, and less like recipes. Every step included meticulous details and vivid descriptions. She not only articulated the ingredients, but also the actions that would produce the desired result. They took time and patience to execute, but most importantly, love.
It was all made with love, every single ounce. She spent hours in the kitchen preparing the meals and cherished every second of it. As an adult, I have inherited her passion for cooking and baking. Not only is it a way to serve my family and friends, it’s also a creative outlet. I tinker with spices and sauces. I prepare arsenals of cookies for weddings and holidays. You can almost always find me in my kitchen on Sundays. It is truly my happy place, a place where I can make something, that means something.
In general, there’s something special about things made by hand. Whether it be a knitted blanket, photo collage, or home-cooked meal, it just feels better, even tastes better, when someone puts time and effort into making it. In observing makers of all ages and all kinds, it is clear that this feeling of joy is reciprocal. Making is undoubtedly a labor of love, one that should be appreciated and celebrated.