Food and Life Lessons, Served With Lots of Love

By TOM MEREDITH | May 09, 2018
Courtesy of: Tom Meredith

I was very lucky, as I’m sure many have been, to grow up around friends and families from different cultures. All the different foods from a variety of countries were very interesting to me. The first time I was invited to join a friend’s family for Easter dinner in Brooklyn, my eyes about popped out of my head. They are a large Italian family with a stereotypical 5-foot, 2-inch grandmother who did all the cooking herself. The sheer volume of food and number of people to consume it were shocking to me, coming from a small, WASPy family who could all fit around just one table.

Then there was my friend with the Polish grandmother, who would have so much fun cooking for “the boys.” She would involve us and try to teach us about food, all the while telling stories of growing up in Poland during World War II.

My grandmother was more German and Pennsylvania Dutch and was a great cook. She enjoyed making simple dishes for us. She, hands down, made the best chocolate cake of all the grandmas.

The common theme all these women of another era shared is the understanding that “food is love.” They all used food and cooking, something we all need to do every day, as an opportunity to teach and plant ideas in young and sometimes old minds.

If you think back to things your grandmother told you, I bet you will come up with a lot of one-liner life lessons that hold true to this day.

Here are some of my favorites from my mise en place of grandmothers:

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

Don’t lie. People know it and will not respect you.

Read stories because they are fun, but know they are usually not completely true.

Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.

Go to church – it gives you understanding.

You’ll be grown up when you understand other people depend on you.

If you are going to do something, you may as well have fun doing it.

Animals are smarter than people. Watch them and learn.

Listening is much more important than talking.

Pick your battles.

Being afraid is part of life.

The policeman is your friend. He is there to help you.

Be careful who your friends are.

If you make a promise, you must keep it.

Never forget family.

There are no free lunches.

People are funny.

There is never a good reason for rudeness.

Trust is bought and paid for with time and effort.

Don’t let doctors scare you.

If there are bad teachers, does that mean there are bad students, too?

If you help someone, maybe they will help you one day.

If someone tells you they never burned bacon, they are lying to you.

It costs nothing to be friendly.

Your father can’t do it for you every time.

Fishing can be like going to church.

Never stop trying to learn new things.

Spend time in the woods; you’ll get to know yourself.

These are just a few of the lines told to me that I remember. There are many, many more I’m sure that I’ve forgotten, to my detriment.

How about you?

Tom Meredith lives in Little Egg Harbor.


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