Scientists tell us that even a hint of a scent of a luscious food can make us feel hungry. Even when we don’t realize we are smelling it. It’s kind of frightening to know that your body is so responsive to influences without you knowing it.
I can remember as a child going to my grandmother’s small farm in the country. Just before lunch I could smell her cooking eggs and pasta, mixed with vegetables and fresh herbs cut from her garden. Then we would all sit down and eat from a common pot, as we talked and laughed. I loved those times, and even now, many years and half a world away, the smell of pasta and eggs and herbs instantly arouses the beauty and wonder of those simple times, when I was a little girl.
Do you have flashes of memories tied to the food of your youth?
Food is not just nourishment. It feeds our soul’s memories, making us remember times and places – with just one sniff, suddenly it is like it was just yesterday.
Our bodies remember food more by the smell than the taste. There are moments when we suddenly want a glazed donut, or a steak covered in onions, a cup of freshly brewed coffee, bacon and eggs in the morning, mashed potatoes for dinner. When we suddenly crave something, most often it is triggered by the indelible aroma that lingers in our memories – feelings locked deeply into our subconscious. We remember those feelings and the comfort we felt when eating them. We crave the lost feeling, and eat to recover what our heart needs most at that moment.
Aroma. Memories. Feelings. Food. We cannot separate one from the other, when the smell first hits our subconscious minds. They flow together like an irresistible tide. And we cannot refuse to feed the hunger of our soul.
In her later years Grandma had a series of small strokes, and somehow lost most of her sense of smell. Slowly she wasted away as she ate less and less. Her doctor said that 90% of taste is actually smell. So, he said she was eating less because food didn’t taste good.
Looking back, I don’t think that was the reason she ate less. It wasn’t taste she was missing. It was the memories. It was the missing sense of those beautiful times with her husband finally back from the cruel war, the quiet meals with her kids growing up, the great dinners with families and friends when we fried fish new-caught from the Volga river. The excited questions of a little girl shared over a pot of eggs and pasta and herbs from her garden.
Food is memories. Food is love. Food is raiment for the soul.
What are your memories from the aroma of food?
What memories are you building for the curious little boy, the inquisitive little girl sitting at your table?
In the long run, would remembering old times and food and fun really make your day lighter?
©2010 Laura Gontchar. All Rights Reserved.