Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Comfort Foods

On Sunday, I spoke at the Word On the Street Literacy Festival here in Halifax. It was great fun, talking about "How Every Kitchen Tells Its Stories",
and I even had a helper... Boaz and his family were there to cheer me on they often do, anyway...listen to me tell my stories. But this post is not about them, or even my's about one of the questions that came up after the readings. "What's my favorite comfort food?"

It was a hard question to answer...not because I can't think of foods I eat when I'm feeling sickly or sad or frustrated or crazed, but because I have so many comfort foods to choose from.

I blurted out Shepherd's Pie...and actually made some the night before. And, because it was damp and cold...I said any thick and hearty soup. And in point of being what it is here...still foggy, damp and rainy...I'll be making a new recipe for Pumpkin & Mushroom Soup - check back tomorrow for it.

But the question got me thinking. First...other than when I'm really sick and need a "food hug from MY Mummy", why do I never think of comfort food in the summer? And frankly, from September to April, at least, just about every meal I make could be called comfort food. Is it just me, or are you the same?
The next question is what exactly constitutes the term "comfort food"?. One of my favorites, on those days when I feel the weather, or just in a mood, is scrambled eggs and baked beans. This dish was served often when I was a kid. And it did not start with homemade beans either.
Don't get me wrong, I make an awesome Chorizo & Bean Chili - which, by the way, is another favorite comfort food saved for AFTER a cold & dreary day of running around doing errands.

But I digress...I love eggs and make scrambles or frittatas just about every weekend. But that's not the same as scrambled eggs and baked beans. The comfort food version is just beaten eggs gently fried in lots of butter. No fancy goat cheese, I don't even add salt or pepper during cooking. I need that bright, buttery yellow on my plate. And I need baked beans from a can with a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce, some garlic powder and a teaspoon or two of brown sugar.

Back to the question "what's your favorite comfort food? " What's yours and when do you need it?


Johanna GGG said...

good question - I too associate it with warm winter food - maybe it is partly the smell that comes with warm food and the association with curling up in a ball in the fetal position - maybe in summer we don't want comfort - though I guess a good fruit salad could be comfort food. Maybe jelly is too? Hmm can only think of sweet summer food that counts as comfort food - what does this mean!

I think for me simplicity is also important - promite on toast is comfort food for me (it was vegemite when I was little but now I eat promite)

Judith in Umbria said...

Ruth, I think the answer is clear. You live in an inhospitable climate where for 6 months of the year if you take your clothes off you will die. It's natural then to think of warm, soft, fatty and meaty things as comfort. If you live on the equator (vastly over-rated I believe. I want 16 hour days all year not 12 and 12 all year)you might want a slice of pineapple or a banana for comfort, but IME most still want at least mashed potatoes or yams if they've ever had them.
Comfort food is never jellied consomèe in my experience.

Ruth Daniels said...

Good points ladies, and Judith...I'm definitely with you on "never jellied consomee" as comfort food. Thanks for sharing your views.