Friday, July 19, 2024

Connecting Meals and Memories

HomeLifestyleConnecting Meals and Memories

Food is more than just sustenance; it is a portal to the past, a vessel for nostalgia and a powerful trigger for memories. As we age, the connection to food and memories becomes increasingly intricate, woven together like the threads of a cherished family recipe passed down through generations. 

First, the connection between food and memories in adults is deeply rooted in their life experiences. Many of us grew up in an era when home-cooked meals were the norm and family gatherings around the dinner table were a cornerstone of daily life. These experiences have imprinted specific tastes, smells, and textures on their memory. As a result, a simple dish like Grandmother’s apple pie or a particular holiday feast can transport us back to childhood, evoking vivid memories of family, laughter and love.

Certain foods can act as emotional anchors, providing a sense of continuity and stability in a world that is constantly changing. When we savor these dishes, it’s not just our taste buds that are engaged; it’s our hearts and minds, too, as we reconnect with cherished moments from the past. In this way, food becomes a vehicle for preserving family history and cultural identity.

“When I was a child, I loved observing my mother think about a special family gathering, make her notes about the menu and chat with me about who was going to be joining us. It was the most memorable time of my early years,” recalls Leigh Cort, founder and president of the Women’s Food Alliance, a networking group dedicated to promoting the First Coast hospitality industry via food and beverage events. 

Cort can attest to the connection between food and memories, having personally cared for her parents throughout their late 90s until age 100. 

“Both mother and father were quick-witted and cognizant of a century of good times and good food,” she said. “Each meal together was a happy time and certain meals allowed them to reminisce about their long lives, travel, family celebrations and of course the thousands of restaurants that they could still recall. The last phone call my mother made to me before she drifted into her coma-sleep, just shy of 100 years old, was about the delicious dinner she enjoyed the night before and that she took an hour to eat it. The phone message became the most unforgettable connection that I shared with our family – just hearing her voice, strong, happy and excited that she enjoyed a dinner all by herself in her room while chatting with a photo of my father.”

This isn’t just sentiment. It’s science.

Photo Credit: Angela Roma


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