Where are the grandmas when you need one?

P1000498_2-ModifierOur mothers and grandmothers (sometimes our fathers and grandfathers) are often the best source for traditional recipes. You know? Recipes for the kind of dishes that make us long for home: old fashioned cabbage soup, stews and blueberry pies…

Unfortunately my grandmothers are both gone and my mom’s cooking talents are limited to a handful of recipes…

I often turn to complete strangers at the farmers’ market or supermarket for cooking advice and inspiration :0) I try to target a lady with a bag full of what I think are interesting ingredients. She would be my nana for the day.  That would make for a great business idea: rentanana.com… Don’t you think?French-farmers-market

I always end up having wonderful conversations with my nanas in the middle of the street or at the store. Very often, another customer walking by or the cashier will join in: “I always use that wine in my Bourguignon!” “Oh no! No cheese in quiche Lorraine”,”You should add a clove of garlic in your oil, it will smell less in your kitchen”, “Crêpes are better if you add…”

How lucky I feel to live in a place where so many people are passionate about cooking and our culinary traditions. A nice thing to protect and pass on to the next generations!French-farmers-market

I stayed at the market an extra 20 minutes this morning, talking to a perfect stranger. Another wonderful grandma added to my pretend family tree. We talked about scallops actually. I’ll have a nice recipe for you later in the week…

When I felt I had seen enough of the market for the day, I bought some bread and Brie at Pierre’s as well as a delicious orange flambé cake from Lopez. I headed to my auntie’s home in the vineyard. We lit a fire in the chimney, made a salad with fresh lettuce from her garden and a simple red wine vinaigrette. The Brie was a perfect match. She had some red. I had some too. Had our cake and ate it too!

24 Comments Add yours

  1. chef mimi says:

    i could start rentapapa.com, cause I’ve never had a grandfather, and even at my old age, I wish I did. I never knew one grandma, the Italian one, and my French one lived in France. But she was really sweet.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’m glad I got to know both my gradmas…

  2. Francesca says:

    A post on grandmas at markets ,a heart warming post. I am nonna to six ,you can be number 7.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      OK dear Francesca, count me in 😉

  3. I have wonderful memories of my grandmother, stirring soup, made from fresh vegetables from my grandfather’s allotment, on the old range in her home, or making warming stews. But what I really remember her for is making ‘clootie dumplings’. These were always made for birthdays but any special occasion was an excuse. Made mainly from leftovers – hard bread – and suet with dried fruits and lots of spices. After being slowly simmered for hours tied in a cloth (clootie) in a large pot of water, the cloth was then peeled from it and the dumpling left on a plate on the hearth to form a skin. Wonderful! Often little ‘Favours’ were put into the mixture, wrapped in a twist of greaseproof paper. I particularly remember silver sixpences, and odd little white china doll figures. It was considered lucky to find one of these, and grandmother did her best to ensure her grandchildren always found one in their slice. Leftover dumpling was fried the next day (don’t squirm – Scotland can be a cold, damp country) and served with some fruit.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Are you kidding? I would kill for fried dumplings! When I make stew in the Winter, and I got the recipe from my great grand mother, I include large dumplings made of stale bread and other leftovers. The following day, I slice what’s left and saute it in duck fat… 😉😜

  4. Linda Duffin says:

    I once held up the queue in my local supermarket for ages getting advice from the older Asian lady on the checkout on how to cook a decent naan. She was so knowledgeable and kind I wanted her to adopt me. Love the idea of Rent-a-Nana, lots of mileage in that!

    1. My French Heaven says:


  5. Angeline M says:

    Beautiful photos, and thoughts about nanas.
    Peace to the people of France, and the world.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Angeline and thank you for your kind words!

  6. Reading this today I thought of how my Grandmother and favorite aunt always seem to make wonderful comfort food whenever I would visit. I have such fond memories of them as they always seemed so nurturing. This weekend I had my two granddaughters and
    spent the time with them cooking, baking. Let them lick the beaters and bowl full of frosting. Had the cookies
    we made for our breakfast and all
    in all hope Inam creating wonderful loving memories for them.

    So sorry to hear of the horrific tragedy in Paris this past weekend. Just makes me sick. And although you are south of Paris we Americans are thinking of all of you!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my dear friend! Yes, it’s been a difficult weekend for everyone… Love will win in the end (love and a few bombs for now). I can’t believe your granddaughters are already big enough to be cooking with you. Life wins! Food helps 🙂

  7. What an idea, rent a nana, could catch on Stephane. Wouldn’t happen in NYC don’t see too many Nana’s at the markets I love the idea they are almost always eager to help and impart knowledge. The photo’s are gorgeous and the one of the fire almost makes me weep it’s so beautiful.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Nothing like a good fire. I could watch it for hours…

  8. Leah says:

    What a wonderful thing to do, and so special that you have so many passionate foodies around willing to share with you. Sometimes I think not enough time is spent seeking the wisdom of the Nanas and granddads of the world. Great post!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Wisdom indeed. I wish more people understood the importance of our elders and took more time to talk to them and listen to what they have to share…

  9. ladyredspecs says:

    As the Nana of 3, I salute you Stephane for the respect you pay to the wisdom of age. I too love random conversations about food initiated by strangers buying the same ingredient from the one vendor, it never happens in a supermarket!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Grandmas are the best. I miss mine so much. I wish I could travel back in time sometimes… I hope your grandkids know how lucky they are dear Sandra!

  10. Rentanana.com sounds like a great idea! The photos say it all. Peace and prayers to your country.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my friend! I’m afraid we haven’t seen the end of it yet…

  11. Sandra says:

    What a lovely idea. I think I may try it.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Ha Ha. Do Sandra! Do!

  12. Gorgeous. I agree that the older generations have the best info. They do have “rent a nana” programs in the local “penny savers” here in small towns sometimes. I like accosting random ladies like you do though to find out what to buy and how to make it. As always, beautiful photos and sentiment.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Amanda! We do have to cherish our elders and make more opportunities for sharing…

Leave a Reply to Angeline M Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s