I was only three years old when my parents, sister and I emigrated from Leningrad in the USSR to the United States in 1980 as “traitors”, losing our Soviet citizenship and turning our backs on Communism for the “evil capitalist West”. I was the catalyst for my family fleeing from a city and country that no longer exist.
According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, our brain can remember we love certain food although we have no recollection of having ever eaten this.
“Food memories involve very basic, nonverbal, areas of the brain that can bypass your conscious awareness,” she told me. “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.”
Good food makes us remember the time, place and occasion in more detail. So we come back every now and then.