I’ve been avoiding eye contact with the scale in my bathroom, lest I feel obligated to start a conversation with it to assess the damage after the holiday feasting. But last week we watched the movie, “The Hundred-foot Journey”, and a quote in the movie changed my attitude to the pending conversation I’ll have with the scale.

“Food is memories.” Food is memoriesThat’s what Hassan, the chef, said on the movie, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I know it is true.

New memories are created and old memories are recollected when we share a meal together. I don’t know how many times I’ve been taken back to a sweet memory when I’ve smelled the aroma and tasted the flavors of holiday foods. At the same time, I’ve treasured the new memories created centered around the same familiar flavors.

On Christmas day when I showed the kids how to season the cornbread dressing with sautéed onions, celery and sage, I was instantly connected to my Mom while making new memories with our kids at the same time. My heart warmed as I remembered the comforting smells of Christmas days past, Christmas music playing in the background with a mess of wrapping paper scattered across the living room floor. All was well.

The smell of fried bacon along with a large batch of yeast bread rising immediately connected me to Venezuela. I had flour up to my elbows as I kneaded the loaves of bread on Christmas Eve and remembered when Taque taught me how to layer the ingredients before rolling it up to bake. As I smelled the “pan de jamon” bake in my oven in Texas, I felt the laughs and joy when we shared the holiday bread with friends and family in Venezuela.

food is memories

My Mom preparing cornbread dressing.

And those gingerbread men that I just couldn’t resist. Each time I picked one up to enjoy with a coffee I remembered the four kids when they were young, circled around the kitchen table with mounds of icing, scattered knives, giggles, licked fingers, and those bikini clad gingerbread ladies who snuck in on the man party. The recent memories mingled with the distant memories when I was the little girl standing at the kitchen counter doing the same with my mom. Every indulged gingerbread cookie was worth the memory.

As if Hassan’s words on the movie coupled with my own experiences weren’t enough to convince me that there is something special about sharing food together, I checked out what science has to say about the matter here. You don’t want me to give you a technical explanation (I’m definitely not scientific), but research confirms that memories associated with smells are more vivid and emotional than visual or audio memories. No wonder the smell of bread baking in the oven connects me to deep feelings.

So those tasty delights shared with family and friends may etch some extra laps into my new year’s resolutions. But they also did a couple of other things…

  • They created new flavorful memories. 
  • And they connected me to old memories.

Instead of beginning this year with a load of guilt along with those extra holiday pounds, join me as I trade in the guilt for gratitude. Instead of having guilt for the tilt on the scale, let’s be grateful for the memories—new and old. I’m going to walk an extra block in the neighborhood with gratitude in my heart.

Whatever that glaring scale says to me this week (whenever I find the nerve to check in), I’ve got something to say back.

“Food is memories.”

What special flavor connects you to a memory?

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