Sifting Through Food Memories

Dabbawala,the lifeline of Mumbai.

The Indian city of Mumbai is home to the ‘dabbawala’ service wherein boxes of hot lunch make their way from homes to customers’ offices.   PHOTO: Satyaki Ghosh

Food memories. Absolutely universal, absolutely distinctive. Across cultures, across borders. United by the emotions they evoke – nostalgia, love, warmth, hope. While travel memories are notched up by the miles, they are bound to feature a food memory or two. Of cultures, smells, people, faces, history.  Jacques Pepin, noted French chef, writes of his in The New York Times:

There is something evanescent, temporary and fragile about food. You make it, it goes, and what remains are memories. But these memories of food are very powerful. My earliest memories of food go back to the time of the Second World War. My mother took me to a farm for the summer school vacation when I was 6 years old with the knowledge that I would be lodged and fed there. I cried after she left and felt sad, but the fermière took me to the barn to milk the cow. That warm, foamy glass of milk is my first true memory of food and shaped the rest of my life.

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