At least it’s not just me. There is “Comfort Food” displayed all over the front of this month’s Indy Monthly, in the form of a huge headline and some sort of pasta casserole, my most recent email from fromages.com trumpets the advent of a “comforting cheeseboard”, and even upscale Dean & DeLuca is in on the act, their “comfort food” including spendy mac and cheese and even spendier lobster pot pie.
So I am not the only one reveling in the white, refined foods that match the pale winter landscape. I’d like to think that my recent binges on raclette, macaroni and cheese, pasta with butter and parmesan, and (am I really going to admit this on a food blog?) tuna noodle casserole are just due to the chilly weather, but the truth is, my current diet is all about emotional solace. Talk about not eating for the right reasons.
As I have mentioned, oh too many times, the last several months have not been too great around here. Losing one of our sweet dogs and trying to stay one step ahead of my mom’s illness have really whomped me. I went to the doctor recently miserable with a stuffy head and I don’t remember exactly what I told him, but when I caught a peek at the diagnosis on my chart, it said “sinus infection and grief reaction.” He only prescribed an antibiotic, though. I had to come up with the carbs on my own.
And boy, have I ever. Comfort food for me is the kind of food that makes me feel cozy while I am eating it. Nurtured and cared for and replete. Noodles are good for this. Butter is good. Cheese is better. Sometimes comfort food is food that is just familiar. Childhood food. The Lebanese foods that meant something really special when I was small, the cinnamony smell of my dad’s spaghetti sauce, the mustard tang of my mom’s potato salad, and the spicy crunch of my grandma’s molasses ginger cookies.
Comfort food can’t come in small portions, either. It’s almost always the case that the reason I need it is that there is not enough of something precious – not enough time, not enough of me, not enough energy or love or sleep. So comfort food has to make up the deficit. There has to be plenty -- enough that I can fall asleep with a full belly, believing that tomorrow will be a better day.
Of course, now I am dealing with the after effects of too many comfort meals, which is to say I am FAT! Sluggish. Slow of thought and heavy of spirit, with cream sauce running in my veins. Time for a change.