Food Nostalgia in the Experience Economy

Food nourishes the body but it's the sense of connection we feel that nourishes the soul. How can you build a connection with food, in your business?

Food, connection and authenticity is all around us

I was looking through some of the books from my Grandma’s recipe collection, some very old books dating back to the 1930’s and 40’s and it got me thinking about the impact the war years had on our food and sense of community.

As I flicked through the dogeared pages and carefully turned tatty pages from these well-used books and pamphlets I saw some of Grandmas’ writings written in pencil and got a little teary as I realized just how much I missed the women, who influenced my life so deeply.

Grandma was a very old fashioned, disciplined, strong women, who taught me many of her recipes. As I flicked through those pages, I could almost taste the foods of my childhood.

Food is such a great connector and I was so very lucky when I ran my tearoom business, being able to recreate some of those dishes and sharing it with others.

When I first arrived in the USA, I found food was a great connector across the great divide of ocean, political difference and time itself. When we sat around the table and broke bread we were building connections.

If you ever came to a themed dinner or bake class or even on one of my Traditional Tours, you would have been served family style, on a long table, reminiscent of the street party trestle tables from the end of the war celebrations, which we still ‘do’ in the UK, as street parties to celebrate anything from Royal weddings to Coronations.

You would have been with other like-minded people, sharing the food and getting to meet new people, strangers at first but inevitably you would leave as friends.

Understanding where food comes from, making meals from scratch and as in England so much of the food is artisan and farm to fork, it was a foodies dream.
Was it my intention to create such amazing immersive experiences when I started out in my business? Truthfully, no. But the format of our events came naturally as ‘typically English’ , it was, in fact, all I knew.
And after serving food in America for many years I finally understood what ‘holiday’ really means. It is a time to celebrate those food traditions, get a little nostalgic and form new bonds as we get together with family friend, loved ones and even strangers.

Food doesn't just connect in the food service business

I was working with a coaching client when we had this epiphany.

In order to make a book signing more interactive and to connect more with the audience, we decided it would be a good idea for her to make her Grandma’s meatball recipe. She had brought the recipe over from Italy. The aroma, the taste, the warmth, all made a meaningful connection with the audience, as they experienced a little bit of Grandma’s story. This impacted how she was received as an author. 

Food nourishes the body but it's the sense of connection we feel that nourishes the soul
"Food, connection and authenticity is all around us – we just need to thumb through the pages of our own lives to see it."

I leave you with this question:

How can you build a connection with food, in your business?

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And as I always say - "There are no dumb questions in business - just stuff you've not figured out yet" - so please just ask.