• Caroline Ingman

Feeding happiness at home - the meals that make memories

Caroline is the Marketing Manager here at Yumpingo - we asked her what feeding happiness means to her while she's at home with her 3 year old daughter.

In a time when I cannot visit the places that feed my own happiness or get hold of some of the staples I previously took for granted, I am reliant on recognising what drives that passion for me as I endeavour to create meaningful experiences at home.

I have throughout my life used food to celebrate, commiserate, entertain and comfort both myself and others.

My best memories were locked in through eating and the many senses it triggers as you experience it.

Teaching my daughter about food and how to cook unlocked a valuable realisation about how strong my own deeply ingrained food memories and associations are. When I feed my daughter, I hope that those synapses are created in her brain, stretching like gluten strands to bake into her memory how she was feeling when she ate or cooked with me.

My mother used to give me chunks of mature cheddar to eat with slices of crisp apple as a snack when I came home from school and this pairing still brings me great joy and comfort when I eat it today. I am reminded of a time of safety and love - the feeling of being looked after. The buttery toasted teacakes in the strange hidden haberdashery cafe in my hometown after playgroup, the hefty millionaire’s shortbread that I lost a wobbly tooth to, the greasy bacon turnovers from the local bakery on school lunch break...I remember my surroundings, the smells, the sensations of it all.

So many happy memories I can currently conjure were created around a meal.

Meaningful meals make meaningful memories.

That’s what I miss at this moment, now I cannot visit the restaurants I love.

I miss the attentiveness of those people who work to create those moments of comfort and joy via food and the welcoming environment of their restaurants. I miss being looked after. I miss being fed. Even as an adult there is a childlike sense of being enveloped in the warmth of the restaurant experience and mothered by the act of someone preparing and placing a plate of food in front of you.

But most of all? I’m missing all those potential future memories of evenings out because they are not allowed to happen right now. The dinner via Zoom lacks in so many ways for alchemy of the senses. I cannot wait to open a menu again and choose my journey for the evening and eagerly anticipate the feeling of my eyes widening as the plate hits the table; the subtlest but most sublime of pleasures.

While I gather my fortitude to wait for those times to come again, I look instead to the therapeutic elements of the home cooking and eating process to keep me going through this period. When I’ve had a tough day, my go-to has always been to craft an oversized and over-cheesed lasagna.

The mise en place, the moment the sandy form of the roux reveals itself, the variations in colour for the components, the layering and the waiting for cooking and cooling; each step brings focus and requires patience and a purposeful slowing of the thought process. It’s a meditative act that oft-soothes a brambley soul, and boy is my soul full of brambles right now.

Sometimes we don’t have the energy for such a task and in that moment the easiest therapy of all comes in the form of that nutrient light, umami-heavy, beige dinner which requires little time or effort - the home equivalent of the station croque-monsieur on the train or the foil wrapped burger and quickly-cooling chips on the dashboard of the car as you head onto a highway where a more meaningful meal maybe awaits you tomorrow. There is a different kind of comfort to be found in the mundanity of marmite toast in the afternoon or a buffet of freezer-tapas, dipped in a livid sauce and eaten with fingers on the sofa, in front of an equally nutrition-light TV show.

So how can we fill in the gaps that our meals out have left and feed happiness from home? Well, I’d say simply to find a way to treat yourself and show yourself love. It can be as simple as using nicer glasses or plating something in a new way. Dig out the chopsticks, use the fancy plates, put on some background music. Cook one of your favourite restaurant dishes, as you WFH. But most of all...make a meal of it!

Do you work in hospitality and have a story about how you are feeding happiness at home?

We'd love to hear it.

Submit your tales of feeding happiness at home here


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