When food is more than food

My Grandma Shirley passed away last week. Even though computers and emails weren't her thing, she was signed up for my newsletter list and she learned how to use her iPad so she could read and reply to my weekly emails (and ask me follow up questions when I'd chat with her on the phone or see her in person).

Today I'm sharing a story I posted on Instagram this weekend in her memory. While I'm understandably mourning the fact that she is no longer with us physically, I'm comforted in knowing that these memories (especially those linked to common place activities such as food and cooking) will live on in my heart.

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When I was a little girl, my brother and I would have sleepovers at my grandparents house and we’d always make chocolate chip pancakes in the morning. My grandma had these molds so we could make our pancakes in the shape of dinosaurs and teddy bears, the chocolate chips creating eyes and faces on these shapes.

As I grew older, pancakes took on other memories: making them for my friends after sleepovers (Bisquick mix of course),  later enjoying stacks at IHOP when we got to go into school late because of standardized testing, and most recently discovering paleo pancakes made from egg and bananas, and treating myself to these healthified yet decadent cakes on special occasions.

Each time I have pancakes I’m reminded of those mornings with my grandma and brother - the glee that came from getting to eat chocolate for breakfast and the special connection that truly only exists between grandparent and grandchild.

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Food holds memories.

Food can remind us of a feeling, or of a different time and place.

Food is so much more than calories or nutrients.

Food is love.

We haven’t had a chocolate chip pancake morning in a long time. My grandma had diabetes and me being me won’t touch Bisquick with a 10 foot pole.

On Friday I found myself ordering a stack of paleo pancakes at one of my favorite NYC spots. I wasn’t really that hungry, and I knew the chocolate and coconut flour and egg wouldn’t be the best for my gut. But I knew this wasn’t about the pancakes themselves; it was about a memory.

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I feel so fortunate to have these memories and many more. And if I need to use food sometimes to access them, to feel that memory in my body in a more visceral way, I’m okay with that.

Food is so much more than just food.

And I hope it stays that way.

Love you and our special memories Grandma Shirley, pancakes and beyond.

In loving memory of Shirley Elaine Nachazel (March 31st, 1933 - January 18th, 2019)