Food / Food as Science

Cheers for holiday traditions!

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Cheers for Holiday Traditions!

ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY ASHLEY E. MENDEZ | FALL ISSUE 2014

Finals are over and the holidays are upon us! Raise a glass to a relaxing break while perusing our holiday letter, filled with a few recipes and ideas, in addition to some insight into how your family’s traditions might affect the way you eat and taste. 

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Dear Culinarian readers,

Winter is in full swing and holiday cheer is to be found in every home and shop window! One of the best aspects of this time of year is the chance to enjoy delicious treats with family and friends.

You may be watching classic Christmas movies while enjoying a cup of s’mores hot chocolate. Or you may be glancing at the glow of Hanukkah lights as you serve latkes to your nieces and nephews. Or maybe you and your friends are engineering a glorious dinner party as a way to celebrate the end of the year and the start of 2015.

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Regardless of how you celebrate, your traditions–whether passed down through the generations or invented on the spot–are key elements to how we consume and truly appreciate the meals we have during the holidays. So before you roll your eyes to your mom’s insistence that you sing a carol before dinner, take a moment and realize that these traditions actually make your aunt’s bean casserole more pleasing to your taste buds.

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In a study published by Psychological Science, four experiments demonstrated the importance of ritualistic behaviors to “enhance the enjoyment of consumption because of the greater involvement in the experience that they prompt.” Your personal investment in an experience can actually make that hot chocolate, latke, or dinner party “more flavorful, valuable, and deserving of a behavioral savoring.”

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Therefore, as you concoct holiday treats for your family and friends, don’t forget the other aspects of the holiday season that can add the right touch to your culinary creations. Attending a religious service, lighting a candle, decorating a tree, singing songs, helping someone write letters to Santa; any or all of these can make your gathering and meal more memorable and meaningful.

On that note, we wish you a very happy holiday season filled with amazing old and new traditions!

Love,

Your favorite Culinarian elves

P. S. Share your favorite traditions in the comment section!

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