Ask Rachael who her best friend was growing up, and she'll say — without hesitation — her Grandpa Emmanuel. ("As a child, I was very much like a Sicilian man in my mid-70s. I smelled like sardines and garlic and pipe smoke," she quips.)
And judging by just one story she told about him, we can understand why.
"I was miserable to leave him [for my first day of school], and I had to put on my shoes and my best dress," Rach tells Al Roker, who interviewed her on our show in celebration of the release of her 26th book, Rachael Ray 50. "I got home from school, and I was crying — I was hysterical. And I said, 'The teacher took my book away because none of the children know how to read. Everybody made fun of me because I'm in a dress and they're all in dungarees. And everybody made fun of me at lunch because my lunch smells because I [had] a sardine sandwich.'"
(For the record, sardines on stale bread with onions was her favorite lunch.)
"The more I cry, the more grandpa laughs," she goes on. "And then he started tickling me until I started laughing and didn't realize it. He made me count my fingers and my toes and then he hit my forehead and said 'What's in here?' And I said, 'I have 10 toes, 10 fingers and I have a brain, and he said, 'Then what are you crying about?'"
How sweet is that? (As Rach would say, don't you just want to brush your teeth?!)
And that's just one reason to love Grandpa Emmanuel, because we might just have him — and Rach's mom, Elsa — to thank for Rachael Ray, the cook. (We have him to thank for these Stuffed Artichokes, after all.)
"Mama was one of 10 children, the firstborn, and my grandpa was the family cook," Rach explains. "So it was [mama's] job, as the firstborn, to be in the kitchen with him. So I think that my sense of security is rooted in food because that's where I always was — on her hip and with Grandpa."
Well, we couldn't thank Grandpa Emmanual and Mama Elsa enough. ❤️