The high school students have been talking about the relationship between food and memory. “Food memories involve very basic, nonverbal, areas of the brain that can bypass your conscious awareness,” writes Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in an article for the BBC. “This is why you can have strong emotional reactions when you eat a food that arouses those deep unconscious memories. You can’t put those memories into words, but you know there is ‘something’ that the food triggers deep within your past. The memory goes beyond the food itself to the associations you have to that long-ago memory, whether with a place or a person.”
With this concept in mind, we challenged our students to think of a person in their lives that they want to remember, to identify a “signature dish” that that person liked to make or eat, and to prepare the dish in that person’s honor. In this way, the students were able to excavate their memories of a special person through the sensory experience of cooking.
These dishes were presented at the Back-to-school Picnic to the delight of all.