Adorable grandmothers of the world and their recipes
pecial, comforting and nostalgic. A grandmother’s cooking is a memory that sticks in your mind. A tradition with special importance in our lives, and one Gabriele Galimberti has captured in his book In Her Kitchen. This Italian photographer, who had scarcely left his hometown, went out to conquer the world, aged 22 years old.
When he told his grandmother he was intending to travel more than 50 countries for two years, to photograph and interview people, she expressed her main concern. “But Bagonghi, what are you going to eat? Who is going to make your food? I heard they eat dogs in China and that in Africa, they hardly have any food at all!” Knowing that the world is full of grandmothers lovingly preparing meals for their grandchildren, he promised he would go to their homes to eat, and then bring her photographs and recipes for the dishes. And so it was that from a grandmother’s sincere concerns, In Her Kitchen was born.
Galimberti soon realized that the grandmothers he met in each country truly understood his own grandmother’s anxiety. “I didn’t think it would be as easy to find so many grandmothers who wanted to be part of the project. Their reaction surprised me every time I told them the story of my grandmother and why I decided to start it. All were very pleased to be part of it and worked hard to cook something special.”
The grandmothers he met in each country truly understood his own grandmother’s concerns.
Home-cooked meals, a gift for the heart, with their nourishing aromas, will always bring out a childlike smile. “I clearly remember meals at my grandparents’ house, when we were celebrating events that marked seasonal changes: the grape harvest and the first wine, courgette and Tuscan cabbage season, killing a duck for festivities, and the melon and watermelon harvests. One of my favourite memories is the olive harvest and the delicious, lightly spicy flavour of newly extracted oil,” explains the photographer.
On his journey, he discovered the world through traditional gastronomy, without artifice. Cuisine that is now mimicked by chefs like Jamie Oliver, with his comfort food. The grandmothers’ cookbook is extensive and varied, as Galimberti learned for himself: Julia (71 years old), from La Paz, made her queso humacha recipe, a vegetable and cheese soup, very popular in Bolivia; María Luz (53 years old) cooked iguana with rice and beans in the Cayman Islands, a traditional dish from Honduras, her country of birth; Regina (53 years old), from a small town in Malawi, which scarcely had a local market, surprised him through what he learned about cooking caterpillars in tomato sauce, a local delicacy; and Boonlom (69 years old), who spent her entire life in Bangkok and considers herself an excellent cook, made him stuffed omelette.
More than 50 other grandmothers, and the recipes for their dishes, are included in the book In Her Kitchen. A way to travel the world without losing sight of the home, through an act of purest love: a grandmother’s cooking. Buon appetito!
Gabriele Galimberti is a Italian photographer who has spent recent years working on a documentary project all over the world. The fruit of that journey was the book In Her Kitchen, which includes the stories and recipes of 58 grandmothers, who cooked for him as if he were their own grandson.