What are the secrets to a 60-year marriage? My Grandma Gloria revealed them for my book, How to Love an American Man (HarperCollins, 2011). But there was one secret she and my grandpa shared that didn’t come out until after I finished writing the book: Grandma actually baked.
My grandpa was the master of the kitchen, especially if you asked his Italian-born mother. Grandpa was famous for making dishes that lured his kids and grandchildren to the table, so when he passed away four years ago, I asked my grandma, “How am I going to learn his pizzelle recipe now?” A sly smile spread across her face. “I’ll show you,” she said.
Turns out Grandma was as artful in the kitchen as Grandpa was, but they had a pact never to tell his mother. My great-grandma’s native Roman recipes were only to be handed down to the Italians in the family, and because Grandma Glo’s background was mixed, her mother-in-law dismissed her cooking skills. As we measured out vanilla at her counter, Grandma told me, “She gave us her ricotta pie recipe one time, and Grandpa and I made it together and took her a slice. Do you know what she asked? ‘Who made this?’” We burst into laughter together. “Grandpa and I had agreed to tell her that he had made it. Then she loved it.”
The lessons Grandma Glo shared about men and marriage for How to Love an American Man were sweet and timeless, just like the desserts that she and my grandpa created together: a family secret too good to keep to ourselves.
—By Kristine Gasbarre, author of How to Love an American Man.