Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Ratatouille Effect

Sometimes it's hard to explain our intense passion for food and all that it entails. There are so many reasons that we enjoy food. In sitting down to write a post about what it is that makes us so passionate I realized I could easily write an entire book.

Taupo-Christchurch 091
Meat Pies will always bring me back to our honeymoon

A book on the wonders of food- the preparing, the eating, the sharing, the physical response, the emotional response, the cultural significanses and variances, the tradition, the community building (and sometimes separation), the religious influences, the involvement in ritual, the exploration and inspiration, the want, the need... you can see what I mean. ~takes deep breathe and stretches fingers~

Food is a common ground for every living thing in this world.

As we're in Sacramento with our parents today I started thinking about a very specific response to food. It's what I now refer to as the Ratatouille Effect.

This scene always makes me smile. I'm sure B will appreciate me sharing this with you. B does not ever get emotional about movies. He talks thru the romantic and tragic parts- it drives me insane. Somehow B never interrupts this scene. I swear the first time we watched it I saw his eyes cloud. He was having an emotional moment...during a cartoon! Oh but I understood.

The Ratatouille Effect is the ability of food to bring you back to a specific time, place, person, moment and/or feeling.

It's the way those cookies, maybe even just the smell of them, make you think of Christmas surrounded by warmth and magic. Sometimes it's just the comfort of a dish that you crave. It's chicken soup when you're feeling down. It's how I'll say white cake with strawberry filling and buttercream frosting and someone will remember the moment they fed each other cake on their wedding day. It's the moment when you taste a dish and think to yourself... wow, this tastes just like my grandma makes. It's the way we get teary when that first holiday without out loved one makes us wonder who will make his famous stuffing this Thanksgiving...and will it taste the same? The emotional ties to the physical taste and smell of a dish. Pretty fantastic.

There are so many foods that have this effect on me. Foods that remind me of specific holidays, loved ones and friends, late nights in college, my parents, some of the first meals B cooked for me and places we've explored.

What foods have the ratatouille effect on you?


  1. I still make meatloaf according to the recipe that my Mom used...the recipe on the Quaker oatmeal box. You see, our food budget was a bit tight and meatloaf was a special meal for us.

    Other comfort foods? My Mom's homemade bread. I make pretty darn good homemade bread but it never tastes as good as hers did. Sigh!

  2. My mother's apple pie. It tastes just like my Grandmother's apple pie. I make it the same way as they did but try as I might it never tastes the same.

  3. Love that movie, and just for that reason. Peanut brittle will always make me think of my Grandma June. Lemon squares my momma. Coffee my friends Kristine and Missy:) I could go on and on. Now banana bread and/or anything macadamia nutty or coconut will remind me of Hawaii.

    I would love to try that meat pie. It looks so good.

  4. My grandpa made his special recipe for baked beans for our family reunion every year. I never had the chance to become old enough to know I should have paid more attention as he made them. So yes, indeed, I don't think it's a coincidence that we have a strong connection with something we need to survive as a species.

    I also (You know what's coming next, don't you?!) love the First Fresh taste of veggies in the spring...asparagus and Fiddleheads! Fiddlehead post is published. Enjoy! ; )

  5. That scene is probably one of my favorites from the whole movie.. love it! I'm totally susceptible to food nostalgia (or any form of nostalgia!) Strawberry pocky, warm milk tea, and my mom's potato salad always remind me of growing up. Kimchi, mini hot dogs, and rice remind me of my year of living in Japan and "cooking" for myself. Shin ramen cups make me yearn for those dorm days in college. Okay, I'm officially feeling nostalgic :)

    P.S. That meat pie looks FANTASTIC!

  6. Oh yeah ... I am all into the Polish food ... so periogi is the top thing that I love that I ate as a baby from my grandma ... and still use her recipe. I can remember Good Fridays at her house with a big bowl of periogi being fried in a pan ... or my mom making them as a special birthday dinner ... or through the years fixing them for our boys and now our grandkids.

  7. Oh my, what a question..

    Lately I've been thinking of my grandmother and how hard she worked to feed us all. She was an amazing cook and I always looked forward to certain dishes she made for different occasions, homemade ice cream, pies, rutabaga! The older I get the more nostalgic I get. One thing I've gotten out of my whole "blogging" experience is the comfort in knowing that other people have these same feelings and experiences. I was pretty sure that I was just a kook!

  8. A standing ribeye always makes me think of Christmas. That is the one thing that my husband wants on Christmas. I remember you talking about that meat pie too:)


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