Food & Memory – What Makes Their Connection So Strong?

By November 21, 2017February 11th, 2018Food
Croissant Taste Memories

“We all have our food memories, some good and some bad. The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting. Food is an effective trigger of deeper memories of feelings and emotions, internal states of the mind and body.”

The Harvard University Press on John S. Allen’s The Omnivorous Mind.

Technically, the sense of smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. But the sense of taste is certainly a close second, especially when you consider just how much of what you taste is impacted by your sense of smell. And when you combine smell and taste, it is quite literally what memories are made of.

Christmas Cookies

For food-focused individuals like me, when I reflect on fond memories throughout my life, a lot of them include food in some way or another. For example, I fondly remember making dishes with my mother for family gatherings, Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparent’s house, my grandmother’s scrambled eggs, and sharing meals with good friends.

When I specifically think of travel memories, I typically pull up evoke images of not only gorgeous landscapes, bustling cities, or quaint little villages, but also unhurried, lingering dinners, unforgettable pastries, better-than-anything-I’ve-ever-had-at-home pasta, or unique and playful main courses. And in the reverse, I can take a bite of something and immediately get transported back to wherever I was when I first tried that flavor.


It has occurred to me the food isn’t the definitive reason I have those memories, it’s the experiences that were created while enjoying the food. It’s the time spent with loved ones, it’s learning new skills, it’s celebrating life’s moments. With the holidays coming up, I encourage you to slow down to savor those moments over a meal with family and friends and appreciate the time you are devoting to create new memories! The physical act of enjoying the food itself most likely lasts only minutes, but the memory linked to that food experience can last a lifetime.

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