From the Editors: March 2023
Food for thought, and memory
The pleasure of having is in sharing.
This sentiment is forged onto a vintage cast iron trivet hanging in this writer's kitchen — distilling that which makes mealtime so special. According to research recently published by Oxford University, the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives. Multiple pediatric studies have shown that children who eat regular family meals together benefit in a multitude of areas, including improved parent-child relationships, fewer behavioral problems, and increased literacy.
Food can also evoke a profound psychological response and food-based memories that center on family, heritage, and feeling loved can burrow into our subconscious and make a home there. "Food memories involve very basic, nonverbal areas of the brain that can bypass your conscious awareness," reports psychology professor Susan Whitbourne. "This is why you can have strong emotional reactions when you eat a food that arouses those deep unconscious memories. The memory goes beyond the food itself to the associations you have to that long-ago memory, whether with a place or a person."
Think of your mom's chicken noodle soup as a kid home sick from school, popcorn and Cherry Coke at the movies on a first date, hot cocoa and marshmallows after playing outside in the snow, a greasy spoon dinor breakfast with friends after a long night out, a ripe home-grown August tomato sliced and salted for the dinner table, a funnel cake at Waldameer after getting woozy on the Tilt-a-Whirl, or an orange-vanilla twist on the beach. These feelings go beyond the nutritional value of the food and evoke memories of place, time, nostalgia, comfort, and love.
This issue marks the fourth installment of our annual "Food" issue, the first of those issues being printed on the very same day that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic back in March of 2020, and just a few days before restaurants shut down nationwide, and all sharing of meals outside of our individual households ceased for the foreseeable future.
And while curbside pickup, carryout, and DoorDashing will always be a thing, we are so happy to have been able to research and document this year's "Can't Miss Dishes" with one another, and in the company of friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones. This year we've brought you 10 suggestions from our staff (and some sourced from social media) of the most unique and craveable dishes available throughout the Gem City, perhaps one or two that might end up becoming the stuff of intense food memories someday.
Whatever you might be eating, whether home-cooked from a heritage recipe or ordered from a local menu, we at the Reader hope that you are able to find the pleasure that comes with sharing.