baking utensils next to a towel with heart designs on it
Lifestyle & Relationships

Ingredients for Love: The Unspoken Language of My Grandma’s Kitchen

Country of Origin: United States of America

(Audio recording by Julianna Wages)

As years go by, I spend more and more time making memories in my grandma’s kitchen. It took me a long time to realize that food is how she shows her love. I’ve come to understand that the food we make together isn’t just something to eat; it’s also my grandma’s way of connecting with me and sharing her life story.

I went to Gramma’s old house a lot as a kid. I usually spent most of my time in the kitchen. Located in the heart of the home, there was always something interesting happening there. It didn’t matter where I was in the house; at least one of my senses always pointed toward the kitchen. It was a rarity for it not to seep the delectable scent of freshly baked brownies. Those were my favorite desserts growing up, so we made them almost every time I visited her house. I would help pour and mix the ingredients, then wait for the timer. Once I heard the oven beep, I knew it meant it was finally time to indulge in our treat.

From childhood to adulthood, my grandma instilled her cooking and baking skills in me. She’s had several kitchens throughout my life, but they’ve all served the same purpose. We’ve started using more recipes. Most of them come from the cookbook she’s had since she was a teenager. The pages are so delicate that I’m always afraid I’ll ruin them, though they’re already stained and yellow and ripped in multiple places. Those flaws just mean the book has been used extensively through the decades. When I come over, we look through it to determine which desserts to bring to life, such as her famous apple pie or butterscotch pudding.

My grandma and I get to make whatever foods we want now, but her journey started rough. She grew up in a large family that didn’t have a lot of money. To keep her and her siblings fed, she found creative ways to work with limited ingredients. She often tells me stories of her childhood, like when she used her cooking superpowers to transform simple ingredients like bologna and flour into flavorful meals for her family that satisfied their stomachs and heated their hearts.

The more we cook and bake, the more I see examples of how her expression of love goes beyond simply preparing and eating the food. I get served the food and a portion of her legacy when I eat these dishes. Making recipes together is a way for her to pass down the helpings of her wisdom, pieces of her traditions, and slices of her family history.

In my grandma’s kitchen, I get to experience food’s real purpose. Each bite strengthens our bond even more. Gramma’s lessons, laughter, and love given to me in her kitchen are gifts I’ll always be thankful for.

I will keep cooking and baking, knowing that each recipe holds a piece of my grandma’s heart and that with them, her love will always be present. Our time together in the kitchen has taught me that food exists to be more than just eaten; it’s there to give us a taste of our past, nourish our present, and feed our future.

Thank you to Cherechi Ugwuegbulam for their inspired edit on this piece and everyone else on the Lifestyle & Relationships team.

If you are interested in submitting a piece to the DG Sentinel, please visit our submissions page here.

Brooklyn Riepma is a writer based in Idaho in the United States. In 2019, they graduated from Boise State University with a BA in Media Arts. They enjoy writing about all topics, from relationships to current events to film. Brooklyn aims to publish books someday, including poetry and children’s novels.

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