Elderly ‘Food Flirts’ Explore Food Without Borders in Unique New Cooking Show

For many people, the thought of aging into their 70s and beyond is a complex concept. The fabled “golden years” of post working life that harbor the promise of relaxation, travel, and time to enjoy hobbies can also shepherd fears about limited mobility, failing health, and financial vulnerability. But Marilynn and Sheila Brass, the two senior citizen sisters who star in PBS’s new show “Food Flirts,” seem unencumbered by melancholy. They’re too busy flirting with five-star chefs young enough to be their grandkids!

The sisters’ lighthearted interactions with rising stars of the culinary world is the basis for their show, as they explained in a recent interview with The Forward at their Boston area home. “Food Flirts is a bit of a reality show with cooking and baking,” explained Marilynn, who is 75. “It’s funny to say this, but if you see the shows, you’ll see us as we really are.” “Including the wrinkles,” Sheila, who is 80, chimes in. All jokes aside, the sisters view the show as a kind of love letter to their lifelong passion for food and cooking, as evidenced by the multiple cookbooks authored by the pair, as well as their frequent radio and television show appearances. With “Food Flirts”, the sisters explore the history and culture behind a variety of iconic foods, such as ramen and pastrami, dosas and even burgers. And while Marilynn describes the flirting with the chefs featured on their show as “fun” and “completely nonsexual,” she also emphasizes that people their age should be “evergreen and open to things.” [See Here’s How PBS’s ‘Food Flirts,’ 75 and 80, Work It with Young Chefs, by Michael Kaminer, The Forward, 02.Aug.2017.]

Food Flirts is ultimately a show that embraces culinary diversity, a hallowed concept for two sisters who grew up in Winthrop, Massachusetts as Jewish descendants of Eastern European and Russian immigrants. They both cherish memories of their grandmothers’ farfel (a type of pasta) and the challah bread their mother would bake every Sabbath. Now they hope that their enthusiasm for trying new foods will remind their audience of what makes America such a special place, even in this politically polarized moment in our history. “Most of us come from immigrant backgrounds. It’s about celebrating the cuisine and culture of American diversity,” explained Marilynn. “Sheila calls it ‘food without borders.’ We could use it, especially the way the world is now.”

 

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