Had this discussion with Mr. Rilch, Friend, and Boss.
Boss said, “Grandma’s cooking is always the best.” His reasoning was that Grandma, with more years of experience and more time to hone her personal style, would always be a better cook than mom or aunts.
I say that that’s true in theory, but it’s not always the case when you factor in the aging process, rather than just superiority in age.
In our random sample, both our theories are supported.
One of Boss’s grandmothers was a superb cook right up until she died. The other still is. His mother was well instructed by her own (the one still living), so should be able to take up the reins when she passes on.
One of Mr. Rilch’s grandmothers was demented for much of the time he knew her, and was a lousy cook to begin with. His other grandma was a skilled cook, but has lived in a nursing home for the past ten years and consequently doesn’t cook for anyone. His mother was a good cook also, but since she closed her restaurant, can no longer face planning a menu or making anything from scratch. Not that I blame her.
On Friend’s maternal side, it was grandpa who did the cooking. He was terrific, until he became disabled. Didn’t cook any more; died a few years later. Other grandma liked to put on a real Norman Rockwell spread, but Friend says it didn’t taste as good as it looked.
One of my grandmothers had given up on cooking by the time I knew her. She had a condo with a tiny kitchen, and a fixed budget. The other had, right up until she went to a nursing home, great enthusiasm for cooking. Unfortunately, she was also senile, and prone to do things like let olive oil become rancid (besides using too much of it!) and serve from the same pot of gravy that had been standing, uncovered, all night. Her sister Rose was the genius cook in the family. She continued outdoing herself until she died. Her daughter (also now deceased) was able to do a fair imitation of her style, but the crucial element was missing. Ladies and gentlemen, write down your recipies for future generations! And not just the ingredient lists, either! Explain all the little nuances that make it what it is! Anyway, my mom seems to simply have given up on cooking, in much the same way MIL has. She just makes the bare bones of a meal while Sis and I quietly sneak in our contributions. I think we will take up the torch with a firm hand. (Unfortunately, there’s no one to take it up for: no kids for me and estranged ones for her.)
So what has been everyone else’s experience? Did you have one of those legendary grandparents, or were they sidetracked by finances/housing/mental acuity?