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May 07, 2006


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Hi Clement,
Sweet nostalgia and food - an inseparable duo! If I had the chance to choose between a ten course dinner at some highly awarded restaurant and a traditional lunch, prepared like my grandma used to do it, I would take the later. Without hesitation :)


Hey! I totally agree with you. I also think that no matter how good it tastes from the best restaurant in the world, I still think my mom's cooking is the best! I miss my mom's cooking awful lot...


Glad your back


I like your theorem (reminds me of college!) and your post was a fascinating read. I agree about the value of nostalgia; why else would we remember so fondly those foods that today might not match our more-developed-tastes?
I read Steve Almond's observation Candyfreak about how candy companies basically attuned people to the tastes of their product - so even though Hershey's is not a very good chocolate, for thousands of Americans that is what chocolate tastes like because it's what they had in childhood.
I'm glad to have moved on past Hershey's, though!


Hi Clement,

interesting article and I guess you're right about that. One other thing that counts a lot is the environment I think. If you have a mediterranean dinner on a terrasse overlooking the côte d'azur, it will taste much better than if you have the same dinner in northern europe, or for example during wintertime. Or some particular environment can have a certain smell, like the herbs of the garrigue in Southern France, which mixes with the flavor of ýour dish or of your wine. maybe you could put it in your formula ;)


Hi Clement! I was thinking about Louisa's article and FD philosophy while reading your hilarious, and possibly spot on theorem--so funny that you linked to it. I was haunted by that exchange between Lousia and Herve This for days--I couldn't believe it!

I've been visiting your site for a while now, and I'll second being glad you're back.


hi clement, thanks for the deep dish on cognitive gastronomy - fabulous post. i'll take comfort nosh over posh & fancy anyday

Gabriella True

beautiful post. very compelling.


Too right about nostalgia and deliciousness, Clement. When you talk about food being incredible food being about excellent preparation or wonderful memories (or both!) I'm reminded of the best strawberries I ever had. One September, years ago, on a road trip some friends and I made an impromptu stop at a farmers' market just north of San Francisco. We bought 3 pints of strawberries and the aroma alone was like nothing I'd ever experienced. We absolutely gorged ourselves on them in the late morning sunshine. They were sweeter than and more wonderful than any I've had since.
PS: I'm glad you're back, too!

Chubby Hubby

What a great post and great formula. Bravo Clement. I totally agree. Tapping into childhood or nostalgiac flavors and modernizing those flavors is a great way to wow friends. One dish that constantly gets my friends excited is an oxtail lasagne. Oxtail stew is big here and most foodies have grown up eating it. By deboning braised oxtail and making a "gourmet" lasagne with it -- while easy to do -- always rewards me with smiles on faces.

What I find really interesting also is that many of us harbor food nostalgia for foods that have no cultural or historical relevance to us. Case in point: I'm Asian, but French cuisine "grand-mere" really gets me, pulls my heartstrings and makes me imagine myself in some imagined past... which is silly because my ancestors weren't sitting in Alsace munching on onion tart but in Southern China. My wife is the same way and I've discovered so too are many others. I think it's because of the books we've absorbed which make us create this false nostalgia of things like dipping madeleines in tea.


Brilliant theorem! As a cook with Southern heritage who often relies heavily on nostalgia, I'm definitely a proponent of this theory. No matter how complex and gourmet my recipes become, inevitably my favorites are always still things like my mom's pound cake or chicken and dumplings. What a great idea to incorporate those nostalgic flavors into modern, cutting-edge dishes like foam and ice cream!


Chubby Hubby, it's very interesting that if childhood afternoons weren't made of madeleines dipped in tea, one can still develop a sort of nostalgia--perhaps we need to redefine the Proust effect!


I totally agree with your reasonings. It's amazing how cooking can take you to such a special place.


You have some really interesting ideas about food! I thought you might enjoy this website:

It has great information on Canadian culture including stuff on Canadian Cuisine. In fact, right now they are featuring a showcase on Canadian Food and Wine. You can visit the showcase directly at:

Check it out!



As a chef I have always considered there to be two types of good food. The first is done technically correct. The second is food cooked from the heart.

Anybody can follow a recipe and make food technically correct. People do this at home all the time.

Food cooked from the heart is where the memories are from. Most of the time Mom's food was from the heart. When I go to someone's house, the food might not be great, but the fact that the person made it especially for the group of friends who are there makes it all that much better.

Incredible food comes from people doing everything technically correct, while putting there all into creating it. I can see it in a good cook, they create every dish like they are only cooking for that person. Everything is where its supposed to be, and they go out in spirit with that dish.

Its hard to find a whole restaurant of cooks doing this, but I'll keep trying to find it, and so should you. Good Luck!

Maria loves pictures

Yes i agree with you, food has the power to arouse memories and bring us back to special moments in time. I think the food can taste even more delicious, if it is lovely served.


A great post. I think food and tastes, much like music evoke certain types of emotions that corelate with memory. And I think the older you get the more nostalgia plays into culinary experiences.


Wow- After Hillel's series about the soul of a great restaurant, this truly is a post about the soul of great food! I remember vividly my own discovery of the power of Nostalgia in food. In fact, I too wrote a post about it

Nostalgia is an amazing emotional trigger. It can be the difference between great food, and unforgettable food that people will talk about years down the road. To be able to manipulate that kind of emotional reaction with food leaves an indellible mark on the diners memories. Besides, it's just plain fun!


Funny how much nostalgia plays into the equation. I like Coffee Crisp bars, which I grew up with, but my husband from Australia, gets excited when he sees a Cherry Ripe. Last time we were there, I tried one, and YEELCHH! They're awful. But being from his childhood, he loves them.

Duane Bailey

I am in complete agreement with you. I remember my Grandmothers cooking more than probably any other food I have eaten, and it's been years since I have had the pleasure of tasting any of her food. Her cooking was pretty basic meat and potato type dishes that probably wouldn't do much for me coming from most other cooks.


great analysis


Quite an interesting theorem!

{Though your post appeals me more than the theorem, yet I can combine the two to tell that whatever you have written has come from your heart.

However deliciousness is quite relative in nature. The moment we think of familiar tastes(like the delicious meatballs your mother used to make)we try not to recognize the unfamiliar ones.

Concisely, our nostalgia sometimes binds us so much that we restrict ourselves from getting diversified tastes of other foods, which might be incredible for someone else.

Though I am nostalgic of the Risotto made by my grandmother, yet I cannot compare it to the unmatched taste of Hyderabadi Biryani that I had tasted in Southern India.

The Happy Slob

What a wonderful post. :) I have to admit - my parents were never great cooks, technically. But their food was great to me, because they created it with love. You're right - nostalgia has a huge role to play in how much we love what we eat!


Really enjoyed your thoughts.


Great food, good food. Where's the distinction?
When we listen to music, an amateur song will have a nice melody, maybe nice singing. But it wont have a lot going on - not a lot of backing, not a lot of dyanamic eq range, certainly no stereo effects to add depth.
To me great food is like this too - you have the "good taste", which any food can give, but you also have more subtle tastes across different parts of your palate.
Consider the difference between a good red wine and a really expensive red - the expensive on manages to "fill your mouth" with taste, without mashing flavours together.

Well there's my 2 cents worth, anyway.

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  • This is my blogchalk:
    Clement Lo,
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada, English, Male, 26, Cooking, Pastry, Restaurants, Skiing, Visual Design, Entrepreneur, Technology,
    Queen's University.

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