Today is my eldest daughter’s birthday. I spent a couple of hours baking some decadent dark chocolate fudge cupcakes with cherry filling and almond buttercream frosting. This delicious concoction, made with just a splash (maybe a slight pour) of Chambord, is now officially the birthday cake for my now adult child. The memory of this birthday will accompany the memory of these newfound cupcakes.
Last week I baked some cookies with three different chocolates, coconut and pecans and dubbed them, “Empty Nest” cookies. Why? Simply because they were sent to college with my youngest daughter as she embarked on her future. I now will never be able to make these without thinking of the day she left for college.
This all got me to start thinking of how much creating memories seems to involve food and vice versa- food creating a memory. I began to take a brief inventory of some of my life’s memories and how food is related and these are the top 10 qualifiers that came to mind in rapid succession:
- Dad being gone for dinner during hunting season=macaroni and cheese and fishsticks-a favorite!
- Stew beef with canned green beans=chewing for what seemed like hours only to end up in a napkin. I’m not a meat eater today and wonder if this experience is partly why?
- College finals=refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough-need I say more?
- Green chile tamales=morning sickness -the smell still takes me back after 22 years
- Trip to EPCOT Disneyworld, Le Cellier in Canada=best drink I’ve ever had, Ice Wine Martini
- First date with my husband=steamed mussels
- Tapas and potato reclette=most disappointing and overpriced meal I ever ate in Las Vegas
- Christmas=Mom’s spritz cookies which was accompanied by the smell of butter and almond
- Buffalo chicken pizza, thin crust=first meal after my ex-husband left (still remains a comfort food to this day)
- Cannes, France with my daughters= the largest portion and best tasting Paella I have ever had!
So here’s a bit of science as to why food can define a moment and a moment or milestone can be defined by food. Our sense of smell is very intertwined with food. This sense of smell-the olfactory system- is located in the same part of the brain that processes emotion and memory, this being the limbic system and amygdale. This is why the mere smell of tamales catapults me back to the days of morning sickness and the smell of butter cookies baking evokes happy memories of Christmas. It just happens to be one of many things that can help create a powerful memory-positive or negative.
I hope that today’s cupcakes will illicit happy feelings and will be remembered as the cupcakes consumed on my beautiful daughter’s 22nd birthday.
If you have a “food memory” you would like to share, please leave it in the comment section below…I would love to hear from you!