ain’t it funny how a melody can bring back a memory? apparently so can a taste…

10 Mar

I grew up listening to country and classic rock.   I didn’t branch out til I got older and went through my rebellious phase (hahaha yeah ok) and listened to pop, rap and new rock, just to be “older” and cool like my peers.  Then in college, I branched out even more to Latin music–salsa, reggaeton, merengue, bachata.  Today, there’s not much I WON’T listen to or don’t like, and I love that I can flip through radio stations and sing along with so many different genres of music…

Anyway, there’s this great old country song by Clint Black called State of Mind.  I tried briefly to find a video of it, but I think it may have been recorded before music videos.  Yikes.  Anyway, here are the lyrics, but the part I love is:

“Ain’t it funny how a melody can bring back a memory

Take you to another place and time

Completely change your state of mind?”

Very few songs don’t trigger a memory for me–I love music, and certain songs just bring me back to different times in my life.  Occasionally it happens with smells, too (one time at a store I smelled my grandpa’s old aftershave and got all teary-eyed).  I’ve never experienced this with a taste before today.

Last week, I was reading a book called “My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes).”  It was really cute and for the most part I really enjoyed reading it.  There was a recipe at the end of each chapter–her family is from all over the world, so there was a great variety of exotic-sounding stuff.  But the one that stuck with me was the recipe for German Potato Salad.

german potato salad

I don’t remember ever eating this growing up.  My grandparents are from Hungary, and Oma cooked for us, but the only “ethnic” dishes I really remember were Hungarian goulash (AKA beef and homemade spatzle AKA the animal noodles) and bolachinga (this is probably spelled wrong, but basically it’s like German crepes).  I didn’t ever eat the bolachinga–but always hung out in the kitchen while she made it.  My favorite meal was Hungarian goulash.  Whenever we had it at Oma and Grandpa’s, it was always accompanied by salad with Oma’s homemade dressing–oil and vinegar.  I’ve tried for years to recreate it.  I asked for her recipe and she laughed–some oil, some vinegar, a pinch of sugar to taste.  She doesn’t measure anything–she’s that kind of cook.  So I tried and tried on my own, then I tried with her watching over me, and I’ve only once come even CLOSE to recreating it.  Sad.

Hungarian goulash...not a big red meat fan, but this is seriously amazingly amazing

Hungarian goulash…not a big red meat fan, but this is seriously amazingly amazing

So I start reading the recipe for German Potato Salad, and the next thing I know, I’m craving it hard core.  The only time I’ve ever had it was at Joe’s annual Octoberfest party.   I couldn’t figure out why I was craving it so much, but I asked for Joe’s recipe (thanks, Joe!) and started cooking.


The perks of being the cook = getting to taste test things as you go.  There are a lot of nights when I cook and I’m not hungry by the time dinner’s ready because I’ve sampled every ingredient and mixture along the way.  So tonight, as I was making the sauce to go on the potato salad, I tasted it, just to check that the vinegar and sugar combination was correct.  And I realized as I was making it tonight, the dressing that goes on the potatoes tastes JUST like the salad dressing!  The tangy vinegar and the sweet sugar combine to make the most perfect combination.

My potato salad is almost done.  I’ve been cooking for what feels like forever (making a few other things, too, while I’m in here), but making this connection between the salad and Oma’s salad has made the effort all worth it.  A melody might bring back memories, but so can a taste.  Yay for sensory memories.  🙂



One Response to “ain’t it funny how a melody can bring back a memory? apparently so can a taste…”

  1. Julie March 11, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    I was amazed to find out that Mrs. T’s pierogies tasted almost just like my grandmother’s pyrohy (the Ukrainian version of pierogies). Part of me was so happy to have found them, and another part of me was sad that a big food processing plant had captured the essence of Grandma’s cooking (and no — she didn’t pass Mrs. T’s off as her own; I saw her making them from scratch plenty of times.)

    I love how food can be as tied to a memory as any of your other senses. Sometimes, I think it and smell and the most closely linked to memories!

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