Saturday, May 16, 2009

Comfort Foods

When I think of comfort food what immediately comes to mind is chocolate and apple pie. Yet as I let that concept settle in, I think of popcorn, a handy road food that has accompanied me on many trips back and forth to New Mexico.
Organic oatmeal with milk, no sweetener, and toast is something I make for myself at the end of a long travel day. Just returning from the east coast visit to grandchildren, being aboard a plane for several hours, with the accompanying rides to and from airports, I’m usually tired and want something grounding yet light, as I come home. A bowl of oatmeal with a little milk or yogurt just seems to be that simple food, that comfort at the end of the trip.
When I think about comfort food from my childhood, I remember the ├ęclairs my mother bought us at the Jewish Bakery up the street, along with the black and white cookies, also called half moon cookies. Something she made for us as snacks was cut up bananas in sour cream, with a dash of sugar. My sister and I would sit outside in the side yard, concrete all around, the sun slanting in, in late morning, and she and I sitting on chairs my grandfather would have set up for us.
Coming from a German/Austrian background, dairy was always part of my diet growing up. During the times I’ve eliminated most dairy, I miss it. I miss the sour cream or yogurt with fruit mid-morning. Yet butter I never let go of. I’ve used ghee, mostly in cooking, but really appreciate the taste of butter, whether on rye toast, cinnamon bread, or melted in vegetable with rice or noodles. And if it’s on toast, I like the butter to be cold, not warm and soaking right into the heated bread, and to be spread out to the edges, not left as a smattering in the middle, suggesting it might reach the corners.
Because I’ve changed my diet over the years, from vegetarian, raw fooder, mostly veggie with chicken as I eat now, some foods that were important as a comfort food, no longer fit in.
And something I realized in writing this…The idea of comfort food is something I never really thought about. Usually when I’m working through something, I don’t eat. I walk. Eating while upset doesn’t occur to me. I just put my shoes on and head out to a bike path or a neighborhood street so I can think and try to see what’s going on.
Yet I love a lot of different kinds of foods including those above, plus mashed potatoes and ice cream. Maybe comfort and favorite are pretty close.
Jyoti

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