Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

How Do You Process Your Memories?

One of my clients recently gave me a cookbook as a gift, “Eat Like There’s No Tomorrow” written by Hans Rueffert, a friend of hers who is suffering from gastric cancer. Aside from the recipes, the book is about Rueffert’s own journey through dealing with his cancer and learning how to improve his nutrition which brought him into a whole new world of appreciating the purity of food in it’s simpler forms, enjoying the best and freshest local ingredients.

I came across a paragraph in his book that I wanted to share with you because it really illustrates how each of us saves and processes memories.

“I am a restaurant boy. Every childhood memory I have took place in a restaurant, above a restaurant, on the way to a restaurant or returning from a restaurant. Those memories, either good or bad, are forever linked to not only the restaurants, but the food itself, be it bad or good. So I guess I’m not just a restaurant boy…. I’m a food boy. Food has defined me. Some people have soundtracks to their lives and some have screenplays… I have a menu. Every smell and texture and taste evokes a strong connection with the first or worst or best experience I had with that food. When I eat gravlax, it’s 1982 and I’m with my Uncle Wolfgang in Trondheim, Norway; banana pudding or fried okra and I’m back in my grandmother’s kitchen in Atlanta. These collected eating experiences are the common threads that hold my timeline together.”

I have re-read that paragraph at least a dozen times and each time I read it, I come away with something different. I recognize how I too have a warehouse of memories attached to food or food events. Food was huge in my home and continues to play a governing role as I negotiate the changes in what I can eat due to age, allergies and healthy lifestyle choices.

I have also been thinking about how important it is, in the work that I do, to find out from my clients how they process memories. Are they food boys or girls? Do they have a menu in their head? A Broadway play? Are their memories triggered by smells, art, location or sound? How fascinating it would be if I could get down to that core statement with everyone that I work with.

How do you process memories? I’d love to hear your comments.

PS: You can learn more about Hans Rueffert at his blog.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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