Food Memories

I’m going home to Boston to celebrate my niece’s first birthday this weekend. As a trained chef and the resident family cook, I’ve been tasked with making her cake for the celebration. I immediately asked my sister for some inspiration.

Me: What is her favorite flavor?

Sister: Umm, she really likes Cheerios and sweet potatoes.

I realize now that 1 is a bit young for favorite cake flavors, but it got me thinking about my own favorite foods from childhood. For as long as I can remember, my birthday cake was a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting from the bakery in our local supermarket. Even today, one bite of that chocolate combo and I’m instantly transported back to the kitchen of my childhood home.  I don’t eat a blueberry without thinking of my mother — she’s a blueberry fanatic. Cinnamon-raisin toast with peanut butter will forever remind me of my grandparents in Maine — it was often my breakfast during visits.

Specific foods trigger surprisingly strong emotional responses. A single bite of a long-cherished recipe can flood your brain with memories of friends or family. Just the smell of a seemingly forgotten dish can transport you back in time.

What food reminds you of your childhood? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. by Michael Kress

    On September 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    The very smell of chicken soup reminds me of family holiday gatherings from my childhood. And my birthday cakes were Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes, which still get me nostalgic for the old days!

  2. by Elizabeth

    On September 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    My grandmother always makes the same dishes every time we see her: fried chicken, fried fish, berok (passed down from my German great gma), chocolate loaf cake, pound cake…she also always has Hershey Kisses and she used to always have Silver Bells but I think those are harder to find nowadays.
    My mom makes some of those same dishes, but the most nostalgic dishes of my mom’s are: homemade pizza (eat it with applesauce!), chocolate chip cookies, chicken and dumplings, lasagna, and homemade bread.
    My grandfather used to always make me birthday cakes that were white cake with “7-minute icing.” We usually would pour milk all over it. Yum.

  3. by Marres

    On September 24, 2011 at 1:38 am

    As a child my Mom would make me a devils food cake with vanilla icing for my birthday. I still love this combo today. There are a few dishes that bring me back 1) fried chicken and macaroni salad remind me of summers as a child. My Mom would make this easy dish so we could stay out later till dusk to play with our friends. 2) Scrambled chopped meat with stewed tomatoes and boiled potatoes remind me of my Grandmothers house. There were always a lot of us at her house on the weekends and we all loved this supper. 3) Moms Beef Stew reminds me of cold wet weather. I still go to this recipe when a storm is brewing :)

  4. by Louise

    On September 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I love the retro sweeties @ – especially the ‘who loves ya baby’ bag of lollies – a sweet treat and Kojak all in one go! x

  5. by Gill at Matraea Mercantile

    On September 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Tacos. Tex mex hard shell tacos with shredded cheddar cheese and lettuce and tomatos. My dad’s specialty!

  6. by Caroline

    On September 25, 2011 at 12:45 am

    You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but… it’s delicious. Soft white bread dipped in chocolate milk. My brother taught me to do that one morning during breakfast, and it became one of my favorite snacks! We made it “healthier” by drinking Milo (or Nesquik) instead. Yum.

  7. by Heather

    On September 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Orange crush — The first soda I became totally obsessed with, I was around 8 years old. A&W root beer with vanilla ice cream — my favorite summertime dessert as a kid. Cherry coke — my go-to drink after tennis practice in middle and high school. Clearly, I drank way too much soda as a kid.