What is it with grandmothers and food?

Of all the warm, fuzzy feelings we get when we think of grandmothers,

a full belly may be the most comforting of all.

The quintessential American grandma loves to express her affection with food.

(As “Nanny Jane,” I can assure you—it’s true!)

After all, what’s more loving than the gift of nourishment?

Nothing in the world, it seems.

Grannies all around the globe share the primal longing to satiate the souls of their little successors.

How do I know?

Photographer Gabriele Galimberti has captured it on film.

It all began when Galimberti’s own grandma whipped up a batch of her famous homemade ravioli to prepare him for a photographic expedition to chronicle couch surfing abroad.


Photo courtesy of Gabriele Galimberti/Riverboom/INSTITUTE http://peace-meals.com/the-grandmother-ingredient/

No doubt, she wondered if it would be his last wholesome meal.

Gently, he reminded her that he would be staying in other people’s homes, where he would likely be fed.

“I said to my grandma, ‘You know, Grandma, there are many other grandmas around the world and most of them are really good cooks. I’m going to meet them and ask them to cook for me so I can show you that you don’t have to be worried for me and the food that I will eat.'”

That was a lightbulb moment for Galimberti, and a new photographic mission was born.

His newly hatched project, “Delicatessen with Love,” ended up taking him to 58 countries, where he photographed grandmothers alongside their favorite ingredients and signature dishes.


Photo courtesy of Gabriele Galimberti/Riverboom/INSTITUTE http://peace-meals.com/the-grandmother-ingredient/

“I like the idea of showing all the single ingredients in the first photo in a way that everybody can recognize, and in the second photo, I show the result of the recipes, where all the ingredients are mixed together.”

The Delicatessen with Love website exhibition also includes recipes for each dish (click on the “More Info” link below a photo to find the accompanying recipe).

“And, yes,” Galimberti assures, “I always [sat] at the table with the grandmas, and I always tried their food!”

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Grandmothers are such a blessing to the younger generations. With their years of life experience, they help their grandchildren navigate the sometimes challenging twists and turns of growing up. I think their great cooking has to do with years of seeing how ingredients all work. They have already weathered failed recipes, wacky stoves, lean financial years, and the art of cooking with baby on the hip. I believe, it is that wisdom that helps them know what really works in a recipe and what doesn’t. Sometimes, it isn’t the actual ingredients themselves that matter as much as the right dish for the right moment. A good example might be the Thanksgiving dressing always served in the same casserole dish. Even if the recipe is simple and easily reproduced, it will never match the taste of Grandma’s when she places her version in that dish on the table. Food is as much presentation, association and anticipation in our hearts and Grandma has the winning hand!

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    A great relationship with either of my grandmothers was just a dream. Sadly, I have to say that neither of my grandmothers were very loving or nurturing in any way. My paternal grandmother was just mean and none of her grandchildren wanted to be around her. When we had to visit we also had to eat very strange food that wasn’t tasty, and it certainly wasn’t comforting. Visiting my maternal grandmother was a bit more pleasant because she wasn’t mean, but she never prepared food for us and we always had to listen to her tell us endless tales of her aches and pains and how miserable she was.
    Both of these women raised EIGHT of their own children so they had many, many grandchildren but none of us were “nurtured grandchildren”.
    I have been eternally grateful that my own children’s grandmothers were just what grandmas needed to be and they had entirely different relationships that WERE nurturing! My kids do have fond memories of their grandmothers and I’m so thankful.
    I love to see those relationships and how they are so nurturing, fun and encouraging!

  3. Heather Sandoval says:

    I loved looking at his pictures of these loving Grandmas in all the different countries. Even in some of the poorer countries, where there were only the smallest of portions, their pride for their special dishes shone in their eyes. I loved these pictures the most, as it made me remember that you don’t need 20-30 ingredients to make a good dish. Cauliflower and pumpkin leaves….who would have thought you could eat them? Yet these beautiful women made very tasty looking dishes out of them. Thank you so much for sharing this story and the link to the pictures.

  4. As a grandmother I don’t have a lot of time with my kiddies, but I know I’m a good grammy. They are getting older now and healthier foods are important to them. My eldest grandchild leaves for college in a few weeks and I am already researching care packages. I know she can cook, but with all the individual portions of good suggestions that are all over the internet, it’s going to be fun and a great way for me to keep in touch with the special things grandmothers do. I’m starting with a cookie in a cup gift just to get her through the home sick her first few days will bring. My boy’s I can still see and invite for that one on one meal and gift of time that brings us together. It’s great that they are eating healthier because it helps me eat healthier too. It’s all about good food.

  5. Robin says:

    I’m so excited to join the Mary Jane Farm community, and a new member of Project Farm! Our iron wreath giveaway is this Thursday the 25th! I’m also very happy to have found Mary Janes Agar thickening gel online. I’m working on a new product that Wholefoods market is ready to sell here. I have already found a commercial kitchen, but my product tests from MSU are coming back a bit too acidic. I really think its the gelatin Im using and plan to go with her vegetable Agar instead, and go for round 3 of testing. What perfect timing!

  6. Deborah says:

    My Grammie was my cooking inspiration. She was a little American-French woman raised in Western PA in a community that retained its French culture even to this date. I remember lying in bed on summer mornings listening to my Grammie and my uncle speak French. The majority of the words I learned were French words for food like pomme de terre (potato), la sel (salt), lait (milk), pain (bread), and beurre (butter). She was up early every day, baking her amazing bread. She made pies like it was as natural as breathing. Most of her food came from her garden. She canned vegetables, fish, venison, fruit, jams, and pickles. Her signature dish would have been apple dumplings and bread and butter. Everything she made was delicious, but people would stop by the house to have coffee and a dumpling. I’m so blessed to have had such a wonderful Grammie. I hope I’m as wonderful for my grand babies:) Thanks for sharing this and bringing back such great memories.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *