Food impacts our emotional attachment centres, sometimes bypassing conscious control. We often remember best through food because the memories are pure emotions, unclouded by the passage of time or new memories.

A long time ago, when I lived in Jakarta, someone who was very important in my life used to bring me a small suitcase of pastries from Milan whenever he went home.

I can still recall my joy each time as I opened the door to his jet-lagged face. It meant a lot, because I knew that he had taken the time to go to the bakery around the corner from his flat for me. And months later, I did visit the bakery. It was winter and I sat in his flat as he read to me with the snow falling outside. I think we walked all the way back from the Duomo in the snow.

Remembering that I had experienced something as special as this makes me happy. I later wrote a book that I dedicated to him, though the subject matter was not something we shared (parenting), but I dedicated the book to him because he had given me something that made me a better parent – happiness, for a magical moment in time – and never took anything from me.

As I read this fascinating article about sfogliatella in Atlas Obscura, I thought about him and my good memories of Jakarta (and a few others parts of the world), of which he had been a part of. Sitting in London and looking back, thinking about delicate Italian sweets, I am grateful to him for those memories. And whenever he says something casual to me on Facebook (not often), my whole life lights up momentarily.

Be the reason someone smiles today.   It’s a great gift to give and it lasts for such a long time.

Main photo: Taken by my giver of sweet memories, somewhere in Italy.