Paula Wolfert: Fighting Dementia with Food & Cooking

(Image credit: Eric Wolfinger/The Washington Post)

When legendary cookbook author Paula Wolfert realized one afternoon last year that she had forgotten how to make an omelet, she knew something was very wrong. Doctors diagnosed her with either early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment, a form of dementia. Neither has a cure, but The Washington Post tells the inspiring story of how she has turned to food and cooking for help.

Wolfert’s long-term memories remain intact, but the loss of small, everyday cooking memories means that she has turned to her own cookbooks for help, following along with her favorite recipes from cookbooks like The Cooking of Southwest France and Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking.

And the act of cooking can help her bring back some of those forgotten memories.

As she watches the bright orange sauce bubble and thicken, citrusy scents float up and the recollections rush back. “I remember now! The spoon draws a line through the cream when it’s ready. I used to tell people, ‘You just catch a glimpse of the bottom of the pan!’ ” She shouts that line with the oratory and enthusiasm of Tony Robbins.

For cooks, it can feel as though certain recipes or specific cooking techniques are embedded deep in our bones. This heartbreaking story proves that isn’t the case — but cooking can still be a lifeline back to a familiar place in the kitchen.

Read the story: Paula Wolfert, coping by cooking – The Washington Post

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