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By Marthe Seydel

Winter is often associated with icy winds blowing, sneezing, frozen fingers, and layering up in order to keep warm. But come to think of it, winter is actually the most empowering time of the year. Think not only of warming up with a hot cocoa or a honey toddy for that matter, but also the feeling of nostalgia seeping from the cold December days that keep us going. Research shows that there is a direct link between cold temperatures and feelings of nostalgia(1).Researchers looked at two groups in two different rooms, both with the same temperature. One group was triggered to recall nostalgic feelings while the other group was not. The first group said the room temperature was higher than it actually was. The other group guessed for the actual room temperature. Other research provided evidence that nostalgia functions to provide a sense of meaning or purpose(2). This research shows that nostalgic feelings literally keep you warm. Add to this a nice warm meal and you are ready to handle icy cold winter days. Bye bye winter depression!

Just think of your mother’s creamy corn soup or your grandmother’s perfectly baked apple pie. Just the smell alone could make your taste buds die and go to apple pie heaven. All these culinary memories give you warm feelings, so why not use this knowledge for the holidays? As we all know, December is a time for family, friends and, maybe the most crucial part, food, a universal steppingstone for connecting people. Whether you haven’t seen each other for months or even years, food connects people. With the upcoming holidays the shops will be filled to the ceiling with turkeys, cranberries, and other seasonal products. But what if this year we do not prepare the expected. Forget comfort food, let’s create a new term in foodie-heaven; Nost Food, short for, what else but, nostalgic food. Let’s use flavors that bring us back to the good (old) times. You can see it as comfort food with benefits. A beef stew that, whilst sharing with friends and family, takes you on a trip down memory lane. Give your culinary feast a nostalgic and heartwarming twist.

So, to make it work, set aside what you’re doing, put down the e-mail you were answering, disengage from your iPad, abandon your daily obligations and bring your attention to your loved ones from the past and present. And what’s even better, if you are short on nostalgic feelings or in need of some inspiration to keep you through the cold winter days, here is a simple one to start off with. The recipe is for one glass of warming classic honey toddy, which after nostalgic feelings is the second best thing to keep you warm. Now let’s hope for some very cold holidays.

‘To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction, is to live twice’.

-Kahlil Gibran


(1) Zhou, X.. Wildschut,T., Sedikides, C., Chen, X., Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2012) “Heartwarming memories: Nostalgia maintains physiological comfort”, Emotion, Vol 12(4), 678-684.
(2) Routledge, C., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Juhl,J. & Arndt, J. (2012) The power of the past: Nostalgia as a meaning-making resource, Memory, 20 (5), 452-460.

Honey Toddy


One tablespoon honey

One cinnamon stick
Some pieces of fresh ginger
1 cup of water
A splash of bourbon
A tablespoon of lemon juice
One strip of an unwaxed lemon
One strip of an unwaxed orange
One clove


Put honey and water in a small saucepan on the heat. Stir until honey dissolves. Next add slices of fresh ginger, lemon, orange, cloves and the lemon juice. Softly bring up to a boil. Turn down the heat and let this stand for about 5 minutes (just warming it, not boiling). The amazing aroma of spices should be oozing into the kitchen already. Turn off the heat and run this mixture through a sieve into a refractory glass. Add the bourbon. Serve with a stick of cinnamon to stir this ultra heartwarming drink. Then go sit by the fire and listen to each other's life stories, learning from today with hope for tomorrow.

Marthe Seydel, is based in Amsterdam. She studied Communication and Information Science at the University of Groningen, and currently works as an art consultant at a contemporary art gallery in The Netherlands. She has a great passion for art, fashion and cooking.

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