The Sixth Sense – Food and Memories

Food is one of the quickest routes down memory lane.  Certain smells, places and meals function as time machines and transport us to another time or place.

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Colorado-style pizza pie at BeauJo’s.

They say that a person’s sense of smell is inextricably tied to their memory bank.  Fresh cut grass smells like the baseball field from your middle school, evergreen trees smell like Christmas morning, tequila smells like bad decisions . . . you get the idea.  In this way, food is one of our most powerful and efficient resources for remembering.  Whenever my mom makes her famous French spaghetti or my dad and I make our way to Dino’s for some homemade pasta and garlic bread, it doesn’t just smell like home, or my childhood, it tastes and feels and looks like a memory of mine.

One place we always try to hit during our Colorado ski trip is BeauJo’s in Idaho Springs, CO. Idaho Springs is an old, small mining town in the foothills of the Rockies and it’s right off Interstate 70 on the way to several popular ski areas outside of Denver, including Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Breckendridge, to name just a few, so it’s still pretty thriving and busy despite only occupying just over 2 square miles of Colorado mountain real estate. The town calls itself the home of the Gold Rush in Colorado, but its now most well-known for its Colorado-style pizza.

Most people have heard of Chicago or New York-style pizza, but I’d guess that less people are familiar with Colorado-style pizza.  Having lived on the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. for the better part of the last decade, I consider myself pretty picky when it comes to pizza, but let me tell you: BeauJo’s is serving up some seriously good pie.  Colorado-style pizza has a thicker crust (not quite as thick as a deep dish pie) and comes by the POUND, which is at once depressing and totally empowering.

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Homemade pasta at Dino’s Italian Restaurant in Lakewood, CO.  My mom worked here when she was 16,  my dad and Uncle’s local watering hole was the Pizza Hut across the street and I grew up on their garlic bread dipped in Italian dressing (which isn’t pictured because I ate every last bite).

There’s something about ordering yourself a two pound pizza pie after a long day of skiing that just seems right.  The crust is nice and thick and perfectly cooked so that its lightly crunchy on the outside but also nice and chewy on the inside.  The really cool and unique part about the Colorado-style pie is the bottle of honey left on your table that essentially transforms your dinner into dessert:  its a dipping sauce for your extra crust.  If that doesn’t sell you on Colorado-style pizza, I don’t know what will.  My dad and I always order the salad bar to go with our several pounds of pizza (because iceberg lettuce covered in bleu cheese dressing really healthifies the meal experience)  and even the salad bar is cute and cool:  it’s served in two claw-foot tubs right in the middle of the dining room.  

Seriously, there’s no better place to unwind with a beer and a slice after a few hours on the slopes.  For me, there’s something about walking into that warm restaurant out of the freezing cold air in my ski clothes with my dad and settling into a table with a mason jar full of beer from the brewery next door that transcends and combines my five senses and reduces them to something wonderfully simple and almost indescribable: a sixth sense that I think of as nostalgia, minus the longing for a time gone by. When I’m at that restaurant with my dad, sipping beer and waiting for pizza in my ski pants and boots, tired and sore from a full day of battling moguls (and losing), I don’t wish I was anywhere else at any other time; I’m simply totally contented and fulfilled knowing that no matter when my dad and I make it to BeauJo’s, it’s as if no time has passed at all.

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