My great-grandma GiGi died when I was quite young but there are things I remember and believe it or not, they have greatly influenced how I cook. First, when I cook there is a nostalgia of my childhood. I don’t remember GiGi being in any other room of the house but the kitchen and so I spent most of my childhood there too! The day always included demitasse and anisette poured only out of a decanter kept in the china closet in the hall. Over the years, the aroma of anisette began to permeate the china closet wood and stayed there for years after she passed. Because I, of course, wanted some coffee and anisette too, I got half of what I wanted. She would make me my demitasse but I got ‘special’ anisette from my very own decanter….later, to my disappointment, I found out it was water!
Now I am a home cook and spend all my free time working on one recipe or another. I am always surprised by how much I remember about her tips in the kitchen. I am sure most of it came from my mom repeating things throughout my life. But looking back, GiGi was the first influence and inspiration I had in the kitchen and my love for food.
I thought about GiGi tonight when I was making turkey meatballs and how I doubt she ever made anything but a beef meatball. I think about her every time I make meatballs because I use her meatball tip. She always said that a meatball is ready for frying when it rolls in your hand without the meat sticking to your palm. So I picked up my meat tonight, like I always do, rolled my first meatball and as it stuck just a bit, I knew I needed more breadcrumbs and cheese. After that, they were perfect. It works every time- especially since I never use a recipe for my meatballs. No one in my family does. You just make the meatballs adding a little of this and a little of that.