Why my grandmother lived to 101. Why my mother is 99 and going strong. And lessons learned.

Garlic, in everything. Every day.

I wish I could find beautiful large California garlic but in NY we are subjected to half-sprouted meh garlic at supermarkets. I’ve never grown my own garlic but it might be worth it because I do use it and love it. Is it hard to grow?

Olive oil and red wine.

I grew up with olive oil in the kitchen as the default oil for cooking and salad dressings, when really the only salad dressing we used on our nightly wedge of iceberg was red wine vinegar and olive oil. I don’t remember when olive oil became Extra Virgin. If it existed when I was a teen, I was unaware, now all olive oil seems to be Extra Virgin.

Wine too, always served. I can remember my grandfather serving wine he made in the basement!!!! Not terribly palatable but not total rot gut either. There was always a carafe of wine at my grandparents dinner table. Not so much with my parents. They drank wine but not every night at dinner. Mostly when company came. I keep a few bottles around and do my best to have a glass of red a day.

Today’s garlic was in spinach and zucchini.

In the spinach, I merely smashed the garlic in the olive oil then sauteed the spinach. I had the spinach for lunch (with a homemade cayenne, lemonade maple syrup water). I had to try it to see what it does, or doesn’t do.

The zucchini has onions in it so the garlic was chopped finely as to not fight with the onions. The zucchini will be for dinner with fish.


My grandmother never cooked from a can. Everything was scratch made, even pancakes. Meals were simple, protein, lots of veggies, and a salad. Always a big salad. And a loaf of Italian bread my grandfather would pull at to get big pieces. He and my grandmother loved to dunk the bread in the leftover olive oil or pan drippings. I inherited that love too but I don’t live near to a good Italian bakery for fresh seeded loaves (a good thing because I love bread and so do my hips!)

They say people who grew up in and keep a Mediterranean diet live the longest. Greeks. Italians. (FYI: by diet I don’t mean depriving of calories, I mean diet in the sense of meal planning).

While my mother doesn’t cook much for herself anymore, she still prefers to eat simply. The salad. The fish. The EVOO. The wine.

Here’s to another generation living long! pass the chocolate! 🙂

12 thoughts on “Why my grandmother lived to 101. Why my mother is 99 and going strong. And lessons learned.

  1. Have you read the book Real Food Fake Food? Informative and fascinating. It will set you straight on Extra Virgin Olive Oil, parmesan cheese, and seafood.

      1. Actually it will make you want to spend a month or more in Italy getting the real/good stuff. You would love this book.

        1. I’d leave tomorrow if I could. I’d spend more than a month. Above and beyond my ancestry to Italy, the Italian culture, people, and certainly food, have always captured my heart.
          I’ll order the book now. Thanks.

        2. Yep, most olive oil is cut with lesser oils. A couple of years ago we relentlessly researched it and found a few good ones at Trader Joe’s. Costco brand from Tuscany is also legit. Fairway used to have some excellent oils, but that whole store has gone down the drain. Almost everything you find in a “regular” grocery store is fake.

        3. Fairway still has some EXCELLENT oils, notably the Australian Picual which is an amazing oil. Sadly, many of Europe’s olives were decimated by disease a couple of years ago, particularly Italy’s as I understand it.

        4. That’s good to know. I remember the first Fairway I went to had an entire olive oil section with an Olive Oil Expert on staff to answer questions. No kidding.

          My favorite police oil lately is Spanish. One I bought to make last years paella. It was very fruity and rich but not overwhelming. I’ve bought it since but but Colavita as my default every day.

          There was a Westchester Olive Oil shop in Mount Kisco for about two days. I never went in and i guess nor did anyone else. Westchester and olive oil are t synonymous in my book.

  2. On RDW’s recommendation I borrowed Real Food Fake Food from the library this afternoon. I’m enjoying it immensely. I’ve only started reading but yes, I want to spend a month or two in Italy.
    The tips I get from this blog!

    1. I’m so impressed how much you use the library. You make reference to it all the time. I can’t think of the last time I set foot in Bedford Library. It’s a beautiful little place but tough to park. Often full of happy mommies and babies. Thanks for reminding me I should try the library again soon.

      1. I too was interested in taking a look at Fake Food and checked it out at the Greenwich library, but I didn’t have to hassle their parking lot. They had it available online as an eBook so I simply downloaded it to my computer. Easy peasie.

        1. The Greenwich Library is something to behold. A gem among libraries. Parking. Gorgeous rooms. What’s not to love. Lucky you to have access to it.

        2. EOS: You can get a library card at Greenwich Library as a non-resident. $125. Could be an excellent investment for you if you want to get back into going to a library.

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