One of my fondest memories as a child was when my parents would load my two brothers and I in the back of our station wagon and take us on a road trip to my great-grandparent’s house during the holidays.
There were two things I could always count on when we arrived. First, as soon as I would walk through the front door, my “Gompy” would be sitting in his recliner, our eyes would meet and he would very dramatically sing “Here comes Miss America!” as I would do a little twirl and curtsy ended with a shared giggle between us.
Once our jackets were hung up and all of the hugs were exchanged, Gompy would lead us into the kitchen and, with some sweet talking my mom into approving, feed us a large amount of sugar in every form one could conceive of.
There were the soft peppermint candies in a bowl, the chocolate truffles on the coffee table, cake, the box of holiday cookies and then of course…Eggnog!
When the time came to wash down the mound of sweets he fed us, I distinctly remember him insisting on us drinking our eggnog out of his very special crystal wine glasses. We would politely tell him that paper cups were fine and he would respond with an, “Absolutely not! You must drink out of these special glasses. It makes it taste better!” And I have to admit, in my 30+ years on this earth, I have never had a glass of eggnog that would even compare.
Come to find out, a professor at Oxford University by the name of Charles Spencer has spent many years studying this very topic! He and his cohort go by the title “gastro-physicists” and have studied in minute detail how we experience food and drink. They even wrote a book about it called, “The Perfect Meal”.
They are known for enjoying dishes that would make most of us cringe- for example; ice cream made out of grubs. Can you imagine?! But because they have learned how to soothe and excite all the senses during a culinary experience, they can genuinely enjoy many rather unique or originally unexciting dishes.
They found that who we eat with, how food is arranged and described, the background noises and yes…even the texture and weight of plates and cutlery all distinctly affect the flavor of the dish or drink.
When you sit down to eat with dishes made from clay, the tactile experience creates a feeling of home and nourishment. Perhaps it’s because we are indirectly connecting to nature; triggering a more say, “primal” response in our brains. There are many questions around what is actually being conveyed to the brain in these moments but some suggest that our biological history and makeup have a large part to play in our reaction to specific environments that remind us of more indigenous times.
However deep you want to go into this topic is entirely up to you, but isn’t it fun to know that with just a little extra thought and intention, we could possibly make a frozen lasagna taste like a comforting home-cooked meal? It just goes to prove that life’s joys really are made up of all the little things.
Retail Store Manager
Mountain Arts Pottery
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