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Digital Subscriptions > Delicious Magazine > December 2016 > Why Christmas is such a feast for the senses

Why Christmas is such a feast for the senses

At this time of year, food scents and flavours mingle with memory to conjure up a magical sense of nostalgia. Julian Baggini gets to the bottom of how and why food exerts such emotional power at Yuletide

Never before have people captured so many memories in photos and videos. But when it comes to bringing the past to life, smartphones can’t match the power of our natural senses. Is anything more evocative of Christmas than its distinctive flavours and smells? The first whiff of chestnuts roasting over a street vendor’s coals makes the heart of even the most ardent Scrooge warm towards thoughts of the festivities to come.

The catalogue of sensual Christmas memories seems almost endless: stockings filled with fragrant tangerines; the lingering gunpowder haze of pulled crackers; the intense herbiness of stuffing; the teasing, mouthwatering smell of turkey roasting for hours; the almond-tinged fruitiness of a marzipan-coated cake; the heady whiff of brandy-soaked pudding... We take the nostalgic power of these experiences for granted. But what is it about food that makes it so emotionally potent?

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About Delicious Magazine

Make your Christmas and New Year the best ever with our December issue. Shopping’s a breeze with our last-minute gifts, drinks advice and festive taste test. On the sweet side, there’s cake decoration, Scandi baking recipes and 16 pages of showstopper puddings. The River Cottage’s Gill Meller rustles up a fish pie, Theo Randall slow-cooks Italian beef stew and Raymond Blanc makes the best party canapés. For a stress-free Christmas day cook our classic turkey lunch with timeplan or squash and chestnut vegetarian wellington, then roast our cover ham for Boxing Day. Finally, see out the festive season with our recipes for leftovers. Happy Christmas – guaranteed!