The best memories are anchored in our tastebuds
What’s your most memorable meal? One of mine was a steaming hot vegetable tagine, eaten on a rooftop high in the Atlas mountains during a trip to Morocco. It was memorable, not only because it was authentic, delicious and nutritious, but also because it was eaten in the company of good friends (and at least one local donkey), in the freezing cold, while on the holiday of a lifetime.
Since reading Paul Thomas’s excellent feature in this week’s NZ Listener on food providing some of our best travel memories, I’ve been thinking about the significance of the food we eat.
We use food to remember. How many of you have a hankering for a certain dish your Mother or Grandmother used to make you as a child? My Mum’s old custard pudding recipe is really quite ordinary by modern food standards, but it still makes my mouth water thinking about it. The memory of it symbolises those carefree and decadent pudding-filled days of my childhood.
Food is inextricably linked to our social lives. It’s a key part of family life and interaction with our friends. If I asked you to recall your most memorable meal eaten at your desk at work, or on the sofa in front of the TV, chances are you’d find it difficult. Any food eaten in those circumstances is just fuel, and while you might feel good about it if it was healthy, you are unlikely to find it memorable. On the other hand meals (good or bad) with friends, family or even total strangers who you’ve struck up a conversation with while eating, are far more likely to spring to mind.
As a dietitian I see many examples of frustration from health professionals or food companies regarding how their advice/products addressing good nutrition are overlooked or not adhered to for long. It’s hardly surprising since nutrition is not a particularly memorable component of a meal for most people. Sadly we can’t all take off to exotic climes to eat our healthy meals in order to make them memorable and sought after. What we can choose to do though, is to eat together more, making healthy food part of the memorable social meal equation. I for one really enjoyed the ability to do this more with my kids more over the summer break, and as a result my oldest daughter is now requesting healthy sandwich fillings for her lunchbox for the first time ever!
By the way, I would really like to know what your most memorable meal is. Please share by adding a comment, and we’ll try not to get into the “one-upmanship” referred to by Thomas in his article…