Foodies in the Family

Gee Gee, my brother and I catching some shade on a prairie afternoon

My Gee Gee would pay us five cents for every potato bug in our pail.

He’d hose mud off of a carrot and off of us at the same time. Shrieking, we’d jump from the spray secretly hoping to get caught by refreshing coldness.

He’d hand us roughly cut rhubarb and send us to Baba knowing she’d sit us at the table where we’d dip scarlet tips into glasses of sugar.

His apple tree yielded so many golden spheres that every pair of pantyhose from Shoppers Drugmart was required to strain the juice.

He always had Rocket Candies in his pocket. He’d tell us, “One for you, two for me” (but only if we’d sing his favorite Ukrainian folk song first).

Gee Gee with two restauranteurs and a food-blogger

All memories of my Gee Gee involve food. He liked gardening and he loved eating. The stronger tasting, the better (his favorite: raw sliced garlic on porridge!).

More than eating, he liked to have people around the table talking with their mouths full (or people with their mouths full listening to him talk – he was not exactly a quiet man).

He passed all of this on to us. Food and entertaining are central to my family. Cousins, aunts, uncles, everyone loves food, yes. But more than that, many of us have made (or are trying to make) food a career.

Like my brother, who may not do much gardening (he spends the entire spring and summer at his seasonal restaurant), nor does he eat garlic on his porridge, strain juice through pantyhose or talk with his mouth full (at least not often), but he did get a love of food and of having friends and family around the table from Gee Gee. And, he would definitely share candy with me or with anyone else who asked.

My brother at the door to Pittman's on 44

Check out the other posts in my series about my family’s food history: The Pittmans’ Restaurants, Melty Brie with Garlic, Red Pepper and a Year in the Life of Pittman’s on 44, Pepper Jack Soup from the Falcon Lake Deli

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  1. #1 by The Mrs on February 7, 2011 - 10:06 am

    I’m looking forward to this…talking with people about food is second only to eating food. And if it’s family food, even better.

    (My Grandpa used to pull carrots out of the garden for me to eat too – but I never got hosed off. And neither did the carrots. Yum, extra crunch.)

    • #2 by cookthestory on February 7, 2011 - 1:40 pm

      Extra crunch and extra flavor! I was trying to explain to someone why I so love garden potatoes. What it finally came down to was that I like the mild dirt flavor that seems to cling to them. For some reason they were still not convinced of garden potatoes’ superiority!

  2. #3 by Phyllis on February 7, 2011 - 10:49 am

    That made me laugh and cry. Brought back many excellent memories.

    • #4 by cookthestory on February 7, 2011 - 1:41 pm

      Yeah, I kept getting teary-eyed while editing it, and looking through pictures finding the right ones to include! We sure did have a great time with him growing up.

  3. #5 by Angela on February 7, 2011 - 11:37 am

    This reminded me of my grandpa grating horseradish roots up in his garage with his welder goggles on..the best on my grandma’s roasts! Can you sing the folk song still? That is too cute! Thanks for sharing Chris!!!

    • #6 by cookthestory on February 7, 2011 - 1:45 pm

      I love freshly grated horseradish root. Do you do that these days?

      I CAN still sing the folksong. Both verses! Did we ever sing it for you?

      I spent awhile trying to find a version of it on youtube but somehow my searches for the my incorrect pronunciations of foreign words did not get many hits: aye aye youbyou Petrushka. Dice kaye zateh bou you sha. Hoy yay kompetrehtroosh. Billeh lipchko chorneywoosh.

  4. #7 by Shannon on February 7, 2011 - 12:26 pm

    I’m jealous of the fact that you had such an amazing Gee-Gee. I always wished I’d had a grandfather growing up. Such a special relationship. You wrote about him beautifully!

    • #8 by cookthestory on February 7, 2011 - 1:47 pm

      Thank you Shannon. It was a very special relationship. I often wonder if my teen and young adult years would have been different if he had lived longer (he passed away when we were in 6th grade). And then I realize that I was lucky just to have known him. Thanks for reading.

  5. #9 by Kristina on February 7, 2011 - 1:17 pm

    Lovely post. Makes me long for the days when we all saw the value in gardening. I remember fresh raspberries and tiny tomatoes still hot from the sun.

    • #10 by cookthestory on February 7, 2011 - 1:50 pm

      Kristina, Thank you. It’s true, gardening was a much bigger part of my childhood than it is part of my adulthood. Recently that’s because I can’t figure out how to grow things in Florida. But it’s also do to (a probably falsely perceived) lack of time.

      My Baba had a juicy raspberry patch. You’ve reminded me of it and now I need to find out if raspberries would grow here!

  6. #11 by Mike Pittman on February 8, 2011 - 2:49 pm

    The memories are still pretty strong considering i was so young. Great blog!

    • #12 by cookthestory on February 8, 2011 - 3:31 pm

      Thanks Mike! Isn’t it amazing how vivid the memories of those summer days are?

  7. #13 by Kathy McCaw on February 8, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    Interesting. Enjoyed looking at the pictures.

  1. Melty Brie with Garlic, Red Pepper and a Year in the Life of Pittman’s on 44 « Cook the Story
  2. The Pittmans’ Restaurants « Cook the Story

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