Posts Tagged ‘seasonal dissonance’

Food triggers memories and marks transitions. At some point last October, I realized that my mind was in autumn mode when rather than ordering white wine, I went for red. Shortly thereafter I went on the pumpkin/gourd spree. That was followed by my foray into German and Austrian cuisine, which seemed winter appropriate, but quickly became fried food overkill.

In case it wasn’t already apparent, Hannah and I both love food, which is why we started Food Fridays. Hannah takes joy in creating new dishes and baking sweets. I fail in the food prep department, but excel in savoring new flavor combinations. It’s a win-win, or so I like to think.

This past year I’ve started to fancy myself a food explorer—even if that’s a bit of a stretch. This is not a totally new thought, though. There was that time many (many!) years ago when I ordered sweetbreads expecting something akin to french toast. And that time in Israel I accepted a dish that had been described as “charif”, or spicy. It turned out to be brain. Or, while in Greece, that time when I put my stomach to the test by eating a single, daring bite of kokoretsi, which the EU banned in the 90s. I survived without incident.

Recently, though, I’ve focused on flavors that don’t make people cringe. So this past Saturday I ventured to Gargoyles on the Square in Somerville for a 10-course molecular gastronomy experience. (Of note: it was nearly impossible to find a molecular gastronomy menu in Boston, but the chef, Jason Santos, rose to the challenge.) My father, brother, and I stared slack jawed as course after course arrived. We even took photos.


Clarified Tomato Juice Cocktail

Shrimp Chips and Cocktail Sauce



Lamb Bacon with Coconut and Mango "Egg"

Beet Salad with Vinaigrette in a Pipette and Boursin

Foie Gras. Sadly, I can't remember what else is on the plate.

Pork Belly Soup "Cappuccino"

Calamari Spaghetti Bolognese

Hanger Steak with Dehydrated Mac and Cheese

Ice Cream "Popcorn" with Caramel Snifter

Glazed Donut Pancakes with Oreo Ice Cream


Hannah has discussed seasonal dissonance—that out-of-step feeling when your expectations don’t match up with the weather, like the 60-something degree weather we had today. Now imagine that feeling with food. You eat a bite of something that your mind says is an egg. Instead, you taste mango and coconut. It’s bizarre. And it’s delicious, whether or not you’re expecting the twist. Far, far better than one of those surprise snowstorms in May. And just as good as a spring day in February.

Weather: Unseasonably warm today. 62 degrees.


Anna – 7 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. A beautiful Friday.

Hannah – 7 out of 10. February thaw!


Read Full Post »

In November, Louisa wrote a guest post for Ditch The Umbrella about her Thanksgiving experiences, promising a post-holiday update. Luckily for us, she’s blogged about another fascinating emotional calendar subject: seasonal dissonance. Here goes!

I wrote a post about a month ago about Thanksgiving—an emotional hotspot for me. I’m way overdue for an update, since Christmas is only two weeks away! Happily, Thanksgiving went off without a hitch this year, as it often does. My emotional mind was less charged up, which made for a much more enjoyable dinner for me, and especially my family. We went to my uncle’s house in western Massachusetts and feasted on turkey, squash, stuffing, and cranberry sauce: the whole nine yards. (Squash is my personal favorite.) I felt happy to be with my family and celebrate with them, and although the memory of that Thanksgiving fourteen years ago was still present, I also see how its effect on my emotions diminishes a little bit every year.

But of course, most people’s focus has moved to Christmas. It’s coming soon. I’m excited, and also quite proud of myself for already having most of my shopping done. With Christmas comes the cold weather, though, and this year it seems to be particularly frigid. In the past week, the high temperature has only been about 40° F, and that was last Saturday. The wind has made it especially bad, letting everyone know that winter is here to stay. Of course, if this were February, temperatures in the 40s would seem almost warm (at least in New England). But we have been cursed (or blessed, as most people would say) with some extremely warm days in November. According to weather.com, the high temperature in Concord on Nov. 13 was 65°. It felt more like mid-spring than late fall. That day was followed by 64° on the 17th, 56° on the 22nd, and 62° on the 23rd.

Regardless of how you feel about this type of weather in November, December seems particularly Arctic in comparison. I don’t like warm November days—such weather gives me a strong sense of seasonal dissonance, which happens when your mind is in one season and your body is in another. The calendar says Thanksgiving, but the weather says Memorial Day! This contradiction throws off my sense of stability, it makes me feel out of place, and it makes it far harder for me to get used to the December cold. For my sanity, I’m hoping that it won’t happen again, but the next time we have a really warm winter day—or even a really cold one in June—stop and see how your body and your mind react to the unfamiliar weather.

Weather: Frigid and gray.


Anna – 7.5 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. She’s energized.

Hannah – 7 out of 10. On the one hand, it’s cold and gray. On the other hand, she is excited to be at the Athenaeum!

Read Full Post »