As I write this, Martin is making one of his cherished grilled cheese sandwiches, using an old iron to ensure the bread gets good and crispy (not to worry, it is the cast iron variety, not the electric kind). It made me think about comfort food and all its traditions. I am not sure if the actual sandwich offers Martin the comfort, or if it is the ritual of using the iron he really loves.
We all have our favourite things, and often they are entrenched in very specific conditions to keep them intact as favourites. New favourites often include such details, and that is what makes them endearing. You know, like the fact that Oreo cookies have to be eaten with a glass of milk, and you have to pull them apart (or maybe YOU don’t, but I do!). It is comforting to know what is going to happen, how the food is going to taste; and the anticipation of that moment is what really makes you feel better.
Sometimes comfort food can just be dishes that warm the cockles of your heart, too. I like ethnic recipes for that kind of feeling - curries and stews with exotic spices are like virtual travels for me, and the warmth of the dish can cheer my spirits almost as nicely as a day on the beach. Try my recipe for Thai Green Curry if you want to see what I mean (invite some friends over - it makes a big pot full!).
What is your favourite comfort food? I would love to hear your stories… send me an e-mail! For me, the favourites are usually from my childhood, like a mug of hot chocolate and a scrambled egg sandwich on fresh French bread. The butter on the bread melts from the hot eggs, and with just a bit of ketchup it is sublime. (Martin likes mustard, which apparently is a Quebecois thing). The cocoa must be made with dark chocolate and honey too, for that gives a much richer taste than those syrups. (See the link on my Facebook page for great decadent hot chocolate tips).
I guess the dreariness of winter is what makes us think most often of comfort foods. Something to chase away those winter blues, even as the temperatures warm up. Something that makes us all warm and fuzzy inside, forgetting about the cold or rainy or slushy weather and the lack of fresh fruit and flowers. Something you can have even if there are no friends or family around, that gives you the same feeling as when they are all around.
So, don’t feel bad – open that container of Rocky Road ice cream, or try one of those grilled cheese sandwiches (just don’t use the electric iron!). Curl up with your comfort food and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling with no guilt. After all, everyone needs to be a little selfish once in a while.