Take me where it smells of love

I dream of a house that smells of lasagna, coq au vin and moka cake; a kitchen in which my parents would be busy; gratin dishes… Evidently winter is approaching.

Posted at 8:00

There are things that cannot be avoided. Among them: death, silly comments on the internet and, in my case, an autumn craving for relaxing foods.

These days I often find myself thinking about my mother’s baked apples and my father’s ratatouille. I would pay dearly to go home and rediscover the smell of these dishes. I’ve come to wonder why we culturally associate autumn with comfort food …

“I don’t think it’s an officially documented phenomenon,” laughed Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard. In the same breath, the psychologist added that it is still something she observes. (Off.)

What he teaches at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières specializes in health psychology. During our discussion, he presented me with four hypotheses that could explain our nostalgic relationship with autumn cuisine. If you too dream of rediscovering the scents of your youth, you will surely find something to understand yourself better in the following lines …

(Understanding the other is a life’s work, but doing it through gastronomy seems a little less cumbersome to me.)


The soup… ideal for the cold

Theory 1: evolution

The time when we needed a good layer of fat to prepare for winter is not that far off, Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard first explained to me. “It was adaptive! And the foods that we find most comforting have a high calorie density. ”

My mother’s mocha, a simple matter of survival.

Autumn would lead us to richer dishes, which is good. Let’s say that leaving the oven at 32 ° C is a little less agitated …

Theory 2: the return to the nest

This time of year can raise a certain need for security. Not only do we know that the arrival of winter has its share of hardness in store for us, but we are also going through a “sad season”, the psychologist believes.


The psychologist Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard

Autumn is the lack of light, the cold, the gray, the depression, the seasonal depression … There is a certain withdrawal in oneself. If we need comfort, we can turn to things that made us feel good when we were little.

Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard, psychologist and professor at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières

According to Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard, eating is precisely the most effective way to console oneself. In fact, we get used to it from childhood. We are rewarded with food, holidays come with treats and even the most ordinary dishes are synonymous with pacification.

I learned a term for this: food neophobia. This is a fear of novelty that many children know well …

“The little ones are very focused on consistency,” the psychologist explained to me. They begin to eat slowly. Potatoes and pasta are among the first courses they learn to love, after compote. More than anything else, they like spaghetti and shepherd’s flan because it is easy to chew and therefore super comforting! ”

Even as an adult, you can find these dishes relaxing, and not just because of their texture: “We are like this in a context of performance, on a daily basis, continues Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard. It seems that the shepherd’s pie is the other way around. You can’t lose it … Or especially pass it, she notes. ”

Goodbye pressure, hello slack.

Theory 3: the power of smell

Our memory is strongly linked to our sense of smell. The smells that shook our youth therefore created deep memories. This sensory memory is pure, believes Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard.

Memories of our childhood meals are particularly precious because they take us back to a simpler time.

Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard, psychologist and professor at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières

A time when we were certainly experiencing challenges, but paying school fees and planning three meals a day wasn’t part of it.

The professor, who teaches psychotherapy of eating behavior, underlines another important aspect of our sensory memory: “For many people, eating is synonymous with guilt. The smell doesn’t come with any heaviness. ”

Theory 4: The power of marketing

If we owe our autumn need for comfort food to natural factors, we also owe it to a certain social construction. When you line up at the supermarket, you can see several magazines promoting gourmet cooking, slow cooker recipes, revisited classics (ever easier and faster to make), etc.

According to Marie-Pierre Gagnon-Girouard, we are not insensitive to this marketing. You end up making associations, which isn’t necessarily bad. While more and more talk about local food, it is desirable to promote the products offered here …

Zucchini, potatoes and carrots are abundant, so take the opportunity to recreate a cuisine where it smells of love.

Whatever our motives, there’s nothing wrong with going back to childhood for a season.

Eating rich and soft will never have made so much sense …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *