My grandmother’s stuffed peppers, a key entry in my Italian-American comfort food recipe book

Dear Grandma….a letter 25 years in the making

Dear Grandma,

I was thinking of you last night. I’ve been having a stressful few weeks and as I often do, I turned to your recipes to give me and my family some comfort. The act of making your stuffed peppers makes me feel closer to you and to my mom, who is on the other side of the country from me. I wish I weren’t so far away from my parents as we all get older, but the smell coming out of the oven made me feel closer to them and to you.

It’s been so long since we talked; nearly 25 years, in fact, since you left us on your way to heaven. So much has changed in those years; some things about the world would surprise and maybe even shock you.

Society is changing. Gay people can get married now. Most women work outside the home, though sadly we haven’t made significant progress on closing the wage gap between men and women since you left :( And I know this might be hard for you to believe, but the President of the United States for the last 8 years has been an African American man! Most of our family doesn’t like him, except Aunt Janet and me. We give each other high fives at family reunions :)

You know what’s even more amazing, Grandma? Last week, I voted by mail (yes, you can do that now!) and guess what? I voted for a women to become President. She’s extremely well-qualified and I really hope she wins. Many people don’t like her, though, so it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen. Maybe you can say a few prayers up there?

You and I never talked about politics. I guess I was too busy eating your food! But I also didn’t think much about politics in general back then. I likely took things for granted or adopted my parents’ views as my own until I figured out my own pint of view. So I don’t know for sure what you’d think about the choices we have in this particular election, except I am pretty sure you’d dislike my candidate’s opponent.

Grandma, you wouldn’t believe this guy. He brags about sexually assaulting women. He makes fun of disabled people. He doesn’t pay workers who help build his buildings. He very rich and yet he doesn’t pay taxes. And he says terrible things about immigrants of all kinds. He dislikes people from the Middle East because a very few people from that area of the world have done some very bad things. I know this would particularly upset you since, as Italian Americans, our family had to endure a lot of racism and suspicion during and after World War 2. It seems very unfair to judge a whole group by the actions of a very few, doesn’t it? It’s very sad that this candidate hasn’t studied history carefully.

While I don’t know much about your political views, or indeed if you had ones that were strongly held, I do know that you were a loving and compassionate person. And I suspect that if you were here today, you would reject this candidate’s fear- and hate-mongering. I just hope that our country embraces hope instead of hate tomorrow on election day.

Now I know I’ve shared a lot of news with you. 25 years is a LOT to catch up on! But this might be the biggest surprise of all….

Even though we didn’t talk politics much, we did talk a LOT about baseball. You loved your Yankees as much as your own family. And while they’ve done well off and on in the years since you left us, I’m sorry to say that they they did not make it to the World Series this year. But do you know who did, and who won? THE CHICAGO CUBS?! Can you believe it? Just goes to show, anything is possible…

Love you,

Margaret