By Ari Mostow and Nate Odenkirk | Staff Writers
To those who purchased my latest cookbook, Delicious Recipes from My Grandmother, I have to get something heavy off my chest. In the introductions to my recipes, I recounted warm memories of my grandmother teaching me how to cook. These were all lies. In truth, my grandmother was a mediocre chef and a boring person.
Before you judge me – and you have every right to be mad – you must understand that I am merely a product of a broken system. In the cutthroat world of the cookbook industry, we chefs face immense pressure to spruce up recipe introductions with charming anecdotes. We’ll wax on and on about our grandma, our neighbor, or how much time we spent in España – anything it takes to get you to try our food.
Lies, Endless Lies
My tapestry of deceit begins on page 1, where I claimed that my Grandma Nona learned how to cook as a small child in her Sicilian village. In fact, she was a second-generation American born in Raleigh who found all her recipes online. Her techniques came not from the rolling hills of the Old Country, but from allrecipes.com. Remember when I wrote that she would “stir a big pot of gravy while telling us stories from Italy?” None of that was true either. I am ashamed to admit that she served us spaghetti with sauce from a jar as we watched The Sopranos.
I swear it was never my intention to lie. Originally, I just wanted to publish a book of my own personal recipes that I developed during my time at Cordon Bleu. But my editors told me to zhuzh up the introductions with long emotional family narratives, or they wouldn’t sell. After all, everyone knows that people buy cookbooks for the introductions. So I panicked, and the lies snowballed. No, Grandma never wore a special apron. She never served us freshly-baked cookies when we came over, either. And her kitchen did not have a “rustic” aroma – it had no smell at all!
The recipes themselves have nothing to do with my grandmother either. It was wrong of me to call her a “kitchen prodigy.” Everything she made was some form of casserole: 30-minute lasagna. Baked mac and cheese. Ziti. Of all the groundbreaking advances that generation lived through, her favorite invention was the air fryer. (Her second favorite invention? Velcro, 1954).
You might be wondering, Why am I telling you all this now? Well, first and foremost, I am wracked guilt from profiting off of fraudulent family memories. But also I’m sick of Grandma Nona getting all the credit for my delicious morsels!
I hope you will forgive me for my transgressions. In my defense, the recipes are still very good, just not heartwarming. The first thing they taught us at the ol’ “CB” is to never trust a recipe introduction that seems too good to be true, because it probably is. So in keeping with the spirit of honesty, I would like to announce my new cookbook: Low-Effort Stews from My Mother-In-Law.