What comes to mind when you smell a go-to family dish like lasagna baking in the oven? The last time the whole family got together around the table? Playing with your sister in the kitchen when you were little? The first time mom showed you how to make a hearty meat sauce?
Lasagna, like many other family favorites, is comfort food for a reason.
Researchers have found both smell and taste are closely linked to our most nostalgic memories.
A traditional recipe from our childhood like lasagna or a go-to sauce that mom always used, has the power to transport us back to those powerful memories.
With those images comes the emotions we felt when bonding with mom in the kitchen or laughing with the family around the dinner table.
This phenomenon, known as the "Proustian Experience," shows us that memories have a huge impact on our tastes later in life, and that tastes and smells can transport us back to the traditions we experienced as kids.
Certain smells bring back memories by targeting the emotional parts of our brains.
Have you noticed memories brought on by smell tend to feel more emotional, causing you to think more about the feelings you had as opposed to the details?
It's important to start creating these bonding experiences with your kids in the kitchen at an early age.
Mealtime becomes more meaningful and children will feel like important members of the family when they become part of the routine.
Studies show it is worth making the time to spend time in the kitchen together. "Evidence overwhelmingly supports the role of the family meal in strengthening parent-child communication and family relationships," says Dr. Adiaha Franklin, behavioral-pediatrician at Texas Children's Hospital.
Not only does helping during mealtime give kids the skills they need to take care of themselves, i.e. using certain kitchen tools, how to make a meal and set a table, it also improves family relationships!
Classic Lasagna is a great starter recipe for young kids. It is called “classic” for a reason. This one dish can become not just a meal for your family, but for your children's families.
"Children can see the work that goes into preparing a meal for the family and can learn how important their role is in making mealtime happen," says Dr. Franklin.
Numerous studies have also shown eating dinner together in a close family atmosphere (we're not talking about sitting and eating while watching the TV!) can increase kids' academic outcomes and decrease risk factors for issues like obesity and drug and alcohol abuse.