There are two kinds of people in this world: people who know who Mo Rocca is and people who don’t. It’s hard not to like him once you hear him being funny. I’m a fan of his, but I miss his appearances sometimes. Luckily, I have many Stocktons.
The other day, my brother-in-law and his wife told me about this show, My Grandmother’s Ravioli, they just knew I would love. It involves some of my favorite things in life. Cooking. A sense of humor. And grandparents. Plus, that guy I mentioned earlier, Mo, he’s the host. Whats not to like here.
Without a cable package in this Millennial household, I searched Netflix and was despondent when it didn’t offer the show. Undeterred, I googled and visited the TV show’s webpage. Found it. Double dessert to the Cooking Channel for streaming full episodes online.
The moment I knew my brother-in-law and his wife were right happened like the sudden snap of a green bean. I was watching the very first episode. Ruth hadn’t served her Shabbat dinner yet. Ruth hadn’t revealed the secret to her mouth-watering sour cream coffee cake yet. Mo wasn’t even in Ruth’s kitchen preparing the gefilte fish yet because you know when the series clicked for me? When the photo of Little Mo in the silly chef hat rolled by in the opening credits. I admit, I’m a cheesy sap sometimes. Later, another non-food thing amused me as Ruth schooled us in culinary linguistic pronunciation. My Polish American heritage shone like a clean copper pot–I already “ch” with the best of them without spitting.
The series is genius. Pair witty Rocca with an endearing grandparent to learn a classic recipe in the person’s own kitchen. After watching a few episodes, I wondered what my own grandparents would teach Mo. I immediately chose my paternal grandma’s potato salad served with a tavern style fish fry. Or maybe some of her icebox cookies. No, no, it would be her perogies.
Mo would have to show up early to beat the cooking heat on a summer day. Grandma would still be in her house slippers, pulling stuff out of cabinets. No matter what, a burning cigarette would be in an ashtray on the corner of the orange-red counter top . If the lit cigarette dropped ash in the pan, nah, a little extra fiber never hurt anybody. Who would argue with my grandma, rod thin and sharp as a tack, there was no questioning her. Next.
The kitchen would fill with a haze of lifting steam from sizzling onions in a frying pan and a few puffs of cancerous smoke. I can picture Mo biting his lip and asking with hesitation if he could crack a window. What are you waiting for? Open a window, she’d say. She would continue. She’d wave him off as she missed narrating an item or two. She was notorious for that, the missing of an ingredient. Recipes by heart written out never tasted quite right. (Next time you see my dad, ask him how my mom’s first attempt at meatballs from Western NY tasted like.)
No matter who Mo cooks with, the show captures a satisfying blend of earnestness and humor. But one thing. Can someone loan Mr. Rocca a hairnet for his kitchen time, dudes got a mop top. My days in a commercial kitchen haunt me. OK, time’s up. I’m ready to watch another episode.
What do you think of My Grandmother’s Ravioli? Did you help a grandparent in the kitchen when you were a kid? Who taught you to cook? What would Mo learn to cook with your grandparent? Tell me about it.