Smells and tastes conjure memories in a most primal way, and can transport us right back to our childhood kitchens. As such, they are excellent jumping-off points for writing or talking about your memories and crafting them into a story for generations to come (not to mention, the kids will be thrilled to have those cherished recipes actually written down).
Delve into your food-related memories if...
- you have a living relative who can be equated with the family hearth: recording those recipes, techniques, & special foods while you can is an invaluable gift for future generations
- family holidays center around the table
- milestone celebrations come back to you in waves every time you smell a certain dish
- you want to preserve your culture
Foods Stir the Memory
On Tuesday we will be launching a new series of posts, A Taste of the Past, in which food plays a starring role, leading us down a path of reminiscence and reflection.
In the first contribution, Christine Mugnolo recalls her grandfather's singular key lime pie: Why can't she recreate it just so?
“It’s been about 14 years, and I still cannot get it just right. I make the pie once or twice a year; it’s my special time with him. No TV, no one else in the room...just the two of us.”
In another post, Kaitlin Ahern pays tribute to her mom’s spaghetti and meatballs, and you'll raise a glass with her to toast the memory of a mother gone too soon (and I guarantee you'll be uncorking a bottle of red, picking some basil from the garden, and putting on a pot of red sauce yourself—and, if all goes well, you'll be conversing around the dinner table about your own favorite handed-down recipes).
I hope these and other upcoming stories will inspire you to want to record your own memories. When you've gathered enough, or decide you'd like our professional help in recording them for posterity, an heirloom book is the perfect place to preserve them.
It's not just foods that can help prompt your memories, either. Old family photographs can also be an incredible source of inspiration, giving solid form to your past and helping you grasp the memories in more detail. Read some other moving posts in our Pictures Into Words series, and get lost for just a little while in the allure of the past.
If the idea of bottling memories of your ancestors' foods appeals, you might also want to check out:
- Grandma's Project ("Sharing the World's Most Delicious Heritage"), in which filmmakers from around the globe cook with their grandmothers—and elicit evocative stories of the past along the way
- Dinner: A Love Story, a so-much-more-than-a-blog compendium of recipes, kids' lunch ideas, and more from book author Jenny Rosenstrach; she occasionally hones in on the power of food as love, too, such as in these three lovely posts: Sense Memories (her husband's recollections of the birth of their first child and chicken salad, not necessarily in that order); The Napkin Note (about her mom and lunchbox missives); and Absolute Value (about her dad, Oyster Bar, and chocolate marzipan bars)
The Dinner Party, a glorious, long-time-coming community of mostly 20- and 30-somethings who've each experienced significant loss, who get together over potluck dinners to talk about the ways in which it continues to affect their lives and how to thrive in #LifeAfterLoss—an inspiring, real-life example of the power of a shared meal to heal and create community, even (maybe especially) after the death of a loved one.