Comfort food. What do you picture? What do you crave?
Oxford English Dictionary defines comfort food as, "food that comforts or affords solace; hence, any food (freq. with a high sugar or carbohydrate content) that is associated with childhood or with home cooking." Foods associated with childhood. Foods that one can return to, not because of their craved taste but rather the texture of memories experienced again in their weave. That, is the hardest part of This New Eating Life...being unable to partake in memories, traditions, rituals, humanity's communion...being unable to return to the past for comfort; its flavors now fermented to piquant bitters.
I used to bake. In college, during finals in mid-December, stressed and homesick, my roommates and I would stay up into the wee-hours of the morning baking apple pies, with cinnamon and flaky buttered crust wafting the length of the flat, carrying us to the comforts of home. Opening a package isn't comforting. It isn't what Mom would do. Moms bake, create, and contextualize contentment.
Many study sessions were also life lessons in the study of making biscuits. From scratch. Comfort = hot biscuits with butter and honey. Stress was successfully staved for a time, while brains recovered their wits; although, usually this latter bit was quite beyond the point of hopeful retrieval. This baking frontier was all new territory for my tomboy soul. When looking for a roommate off of my new college's listing of New Students, the first question that my mom asked the prospective match's father was, "Can she cook?" Reminiscent of some odd arranged marriage of friendship, this mattered. I had, in my senior year of high school, given my parents enough reason to worry about my future domestic capabilities. Burnt food coming out of the oven in my hands was no rare occurrence, and I managed to quite literally blow up our stove after letting a pot of soup boil over and upon returning to the kitchen, finding an eruption more fitting of Independence Day than a country kitchen.
We ate off canned goods heated on our Benjamin Franklin Stove until we had money enough to buy ourselves back into the 20th century. I received no punishment for ruining the family stove; but, isn't it strange how oft times the absence of castigation results in severe self-inflicted penance? I felt guilty. The incriminating evidence was there. The judges were merciful
Do you see why my mother was worried?
But, this Perfect Match was a prize winning 4-H cook. She was everything I was not. And, she turned into my best friend. Ironically, now years later, we have both journeyed to the discovery that we cannot eat gluten. A kindred soul with kindred inner digestive workings.
Tonight I wanted comfort food. Truthfully, I just craved that qualifier.....Comfort. I desired warmth and assurance. So, I curried. I curried comfort.
I had no idea what Thai Food was, until I moved to San Francisco; and then, The Taste was on a first date at Lanna Thai, where Pad Thai and Thai Tea were ordered, thus introducing me to two new worlds simultaneously. The new world of Tastes lasting longer than the love...
I imagined these restaurants in San Francisco. I tried to remember the smells. What flavors mix with what?! I began throwing things into a pot and it worked: they comforted.
-Comforted Curry -
Freshly grated ginger
Thai red curry paste
Brown jasmine rice