How This 106-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Became a Famous YouTube Chef
You can learn just about anything on YouTube—including how to make watermelon chicken and scrambed emu eggs from a centenarian.
Foto per gentile concessione di Nina Knight
I talked to my dad yesterday, and he excitedly told me that he'd managed to remove a forgotten department store security tag from a jacket he bought (not shoplifted, I swear) because he watched 20 minutes' worth of how-to videos on YouTube. At this point, you can find instructions on how to do anything, from freezing security tags so they don't explode on your new golf gear to folding fitted sheets to, say, cooking that pile of emu eggs that you just don't know what to do with—but the chef just might be the most interesting part of that 15-minute clip.
An emu egg scramble is one of the 200-ish videos on 106-year-old Mastanamma's YouTube channel, Country Foods, and the Indian great-grandmother has shown zero signs of slowing down. Just over a year ago, Mastanamma's great-grandson, Karre Laxman, decided to change the focus of his own struggling cooking channel by highlighting her traditional recipes, and the internet seems to have responded by giving their family a collective high five.
"Our first video with her was a hit and received 3 million views. We uploaded another video titled 'Watermelon Chicken by My Granny' and that [also] went viral. We couldn't believe that this recipe video hit over 8 million views," Laxman's creative partner, Shrinath Reddy, said. "There truly is magic in her recipes and the food she makes… and because of YouTube, she's able to share that passion on a global scale."
Mastanamma is adorable and charming, preparing everything from traditional curries to her own variation on KFC's chicken, talking to the camera about her life as she tends to the fire pit where she cooks each meal. (Some of the videos have English subtitles, some of them do not—but they don't always need them, either.)
The Country Foods channel seems to be just another chapter in Mastanamma's extraordinary life. According to The Better India, she was married at 11 and was a widowed single mother of five by the time she was 22. She lost four of her children to a cholera epidemic, but kept moving forward, working as a day laborer in the fields of her small village, as a chef in a hotel and, at age 105, as a day laborer again.
"My husband was a nice man. I miss him sometimes," she said in a video about her life. "I asked him before he died, 'We have five children, how can I survive without you?' He held my hand and said, 'You are a very intelligent and strong woman. You will survive.'"
He had no idea how right he was, on all counts. Now it's time to do something about all of those emu eggs that have collected in your cabinets—you have no excuse not to.