29 Oct 2016

Global granny grub

From This Way Up, 12:25 pm on 29 October 2016

"Growing up I realized that my grandmother had been the repository of our family culture and identity. And I found out that, like her, millions of grandmothers all over the world pass down their heritage to their grandchildren." Jody Scaravella of Enoteca Maria

A New York restaurant has started showcasing the best in global granny grub, and it's getting rave reviews. 

Nonnas of the World at Enoteca Maria, Staten Island, New York

Nonnas of the World at Enoteca Maria, Staten Island, New York Photo: Glen DiCrocco http://portfolio.glendicrocco.com/

Jody Scaravella's the owner of Enoteca Maria, a New York restaurant that's started showcasing the best in global granny grub. 

He started off with a crack team of Italian grandmothers celebrating food from his own past, but he quickly found there was a hunger for good home-cooked food from other places.

So now he's recruited a team of international grannies from Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Poland and lots of other countries to display the best their national cuisine has to offer. 

"There were a lot of different people from a lot of different ethnic backgrounds that were coming in and celebrating these Italian grandmothers so I thought how nice would it be to celebrate everybody’s culture? So we started featuring grandmothers from all over the world.”

One kitchen is always staffed by an Italian grandmother but the other kitchen changes every day.

Last Friday it was Sri Lanka, Saturday was Siberia, Sunday was Peru. It’s a daunting task to change this kitchen every day from one culture to the other but it’s very fulfilling," he says.

Most of the nonas come to him through word of mouth

"They get paid a little money and they come in and they strut their stuff."

"We really need to represent every culture" Mr Scarevlla says. "I think it's really important to get people to understand that we are just one as a people. Music takes you across those borders comfortably, and art takes you across those borders, and food does as well."