Some people believe in God. My grandmother believes in vegetables.

For a casual dinner with Grandpa, one or two vegetables plus a salad will suffice. But for a family feast, no less than five different ones will do. Standard fare Chez Grandma Rose usually includes salad, string beans, squash, spinach, carrot pudding, pickles and olives.

Grandma's all-time high--counted gleefully by my sister and me one holiday meal--was nine vegetables, including salad and cole slaw, brussels sprouts, marinated beets, eggplant and cabbage. When we asked why she'd gone so heavy on the greens, her quick response was a credit to grandmothers everywhere: "Because they're good for you, that's why. Have some more."

I love vegetables, and I'm crazy about Grandma Rose. She's an excellent cook, trained by her English mother-in-law in hearty standards like Roast Beef and Baked Dish (rice and potatoes). Add a healthy dose of Jewish grandmother, and her table is an interesting mix of British and Yiddish. Kugel with brisket. Turkey with crispy potatoes. Chopped liver appetizer, "purple plums" for dessert.

My grandmother's affinity for vegetables was tough on my mother, who as a child hated greens. She tells stories of sitting for what seemed to her an eternity (until she cleaned her plate) watching broccoli grow cold. As a result, when she became a mother she served only salad and the two vegetables she liked--baby peas and wax beans. I didn't know, until college, that "exotic" vegetables like cauliflower existed.

Today my diet is largely vegetarian. Which may illustrate a genetic principle. "Veg-ophilia," like twins or red hair, seems to skip a generation.