Remembrance of Meals Past
How food can take us to our favorite places, even while staying at home
With travel restricted in the last year, how many of us have been able to visit far off places through the flavors, aromas, or sight of food at home?
As my family and I recently prepared beef for dinner, my mind wandered back to a visit taken to the wine estate at Domaine Comte Senard in Aloxe-Corton, part of the Bourgogne region in France. While the wines we tasted were all memorable, our at-home meal brought me back to the rich and savory beef bourguignon stew served at the small restaurant on the estate. It was not the fanciest meal I have ever had, but it was certainly one of the most delicious.
And isn’t that so often the truth that some of our favorite meals, the ones that happily remind us of a particular place and time, were often simpler fare?
When I see lobster in our local fish market, I am taken back to the simple lobster roll with clarified butter my family and I enjoyed during a hot summer day on the coast of Massachusetts — not a Michelin star restaurant.
Or Italian food. Is there anything as tasty as a well-made pizza to bring back memories of other pies eaten over the years? I often think back to the simpler pizzas I had growing up at one of the first pizzerias in Venezuela. Or the ones I’ve made at home with my family where we learned firsthand how challenging it can be to turn the basic ingredients (flour, yeast, tomatoes, and cheese) into a pie worthy of the name pizza.
And of course, whenever and wherever I’m biting into shrimp or a slice of aged ham, the taste and texture take me back to the food markets in Madrid. For all of the beauty and history of Spain — it’s art, architecture, gardens, and parks — nothing quite captures its culture like the food. As the Spanish say, “De la panza sale la danza” (“From the stomach comes the dance”).
Food has this wonderful way of transporting us back in time and connecting present pleasures to past perceptions. Or, as the late great Anthony Bourdain wrote more eloquently:
“context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.”
And so, while I eat beef at home, I am also enjoying that wonderful bourguignon dish on a sunny afternoon in France in 2018.
Wherever you are, may it be filled with good food and good memories.
Danilo Diazgranados is an investor, collector, and lover of fine wines and a member of the prestigious Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a fraternity of Burgundy wine enthusiasts.