Season 12 Episode 3

Why Are Food Memories So Powerful?

Who remembers cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks?! All of us, right? Prepare to head down memory lane, because in today’s episode we’re looking at food memories! We unveil the science behind why they’re so powerful, with plenty of reminiscing over our own food memories and some of yours too! Which leaves us wondering if it’s ever possible to recreate those feelings by recreating the food… Aaand as usual we want to hear what you think – do you have any childhood food memories that stand out? Have any of your memories inspired your cooking today? Or do you disagree with anything we’ve said?! Let us know in the comments!


Best soundbite: “I don’t think James’s palette is refined enough to appreciate the joys of pineapple and cheese” – Jamie Spafford

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Something to make you think...

Nostalgia is a huge factor in why food memories are so powerful. So is it ever possible to completely recreate the feeling associated with a specific food? Or do we just have to make new memories?

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  1. Entereraja

    Kale stampot with roekwarst. I didn’t know what kale was in English until my late 20’s. Then I couldn’t find it in stores. So I ended up growing it in my garden. Just to have this incredible sense memory of my childhood.

  2. scottishfiction

    My gran made fairy cakes which involved slicing the top off the cake, cutting that into two and using butter icing to affix the parts onto the top like wings. That’s always been my idea of fairy cakes. My other gran always had me make flapjacks with her, and though I don’t make them often, I’d never even consider another recipe. It’s the most easy go-to food gift for my best friend as he adores them!

  3. Dmpickering13

    So first I would like to say I just joined the Sorted club 2 days ago for the packs app. I am not a podcast person, but I am now obsessed with these. I listen while cleaning or just playing video games. Kinda replaced music at times.

    For me Food memories are so important. Growing up when ever we would travel we would have to try the local food no matter what it was or how strange. I can say I have had some weird things. But now that I am older and travel with my girlfriend instead of my parents our trips revolve around food. We talk about the adventure and what we ate. When we went to New Orleans and we saw a shot of vodka with an oyster in it, I ordered it because it was different because we both knew it would be something we talk about in the future and remember. In the Caribbean I would order every local dish because it is so different from what I can get at home. For me traveling is the food and the food makes the memories.

  4. Jermiyahu

    I sooooo relate to James travelling places specifically for food experiences.
    Two years ago, I watched a Netflix show where a little taco place was presented in Copenhagen (created by a former Noma employee).
    Switched the tv off, booked tickets for the weekend, went there straight from the airport.
    Absolutely worth it.
    And yes, I traveled to Copenhagen to eat the best tacos I’ve ever eaten.

  5. Taheera

    Childhood memories are huge when it comes to food. I think my relationship with food was definitely affected, in a positive way, by my childhood. My parents and lots of family members cooked from scratch, and we still do. There have been a few moments where I’ve tasted something and it reminds me of a memory where I either had the same food or similar. Two of the best memories include: one, where I cooked something and it tasted exactly like the dish I remembered/wanted to recreate, and it was a first attempt (I nearly cried); second was when a batch of my homebrewed kombucha caused one of my friends to have a food memory, and he actually teared up.

    And I agree with Sunanda_K, get the recipe, Jamie! It may not taste the same, it probably won’t because grandmas have that special loving touch, but maybe someday someone else in the family will be able to recreate it or at least create a new memory with that recipe for the family.

    • Sorted

      That’s very powerful for your kombucha to have that effect on your friend! Yes these recipes shouldn’t be lost and really need to be handed down to family members.

  6. Sunanda_K

    Thanks for featuring my tweet ( Sue/ wander_ponder at your service). But no, that’s not particularly foodie, that’s just how Indian households functioned in the 90s when packaged goods were just not available that easily.

    Jamie, get your grandmother’s recipe! I lost mine two years ago and have been trying to recreate some of her recipes and just not getting there.
    I really like James’s idea of being intentional about the food memories we create as adults. I’m definitely going to put some thought into the next good memories I create for myself.

    • Sorted

      We can probably all learn something from James comment 🙂

  7. Powerfulweak

    Growing up, we used to visit my Abi (Abeula). She’d make a lot of different Puerto Rican foods, but my favorite was Pink Beans and Rice. The flavor was always so specific and something I couldn’t put a name on. Even now, just thinking about it, I can smell her kitchen and here her and my dad talking.
    When she passed away a few years ago, I became determined to recreate her recipe. It took me 4 years, but I finally did it. It really is just comfort food in the best sense.

      • Powerfulweak

        Pink Beans are similar to pinto beans or northern beans and have this light pinkish brown color. On the can, they literally say “Pink Beans”. I’ve heard of some people using light red kidney beans as a substitute, but the texture just isn’t right IMO ( not according to my memory 😁)

        • Sunanda_K

          Ah, I shall look for those. I guess the closest thing to this that we have in my culture is rajma- chawal ( red kidney beans with rice)

    • Sorted

      Wow, that’s incredible that you managed to recreate it, and worth the 4 years in doing so to bring back those memories of your Abi and the sensation of eating comfort food.

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