I am an eater. I don’t mean in the traditional sense, all living things eat in some way, I mean I take eating very seriously. Food can provide much-needed nourishment so you can get back to my life of dastardly deeds and swashbuckling. Or, food can be art or a symbol of home and comfort.
That’s what I’m gonna talk about today: comfort foods. (As if you couldn’t tell from the title itself.)
Food is pretty delicious in general, but there’s always those certain meals that makes you feel better every time you eat it. It’s the food you turn to when you need comfort the most.
Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s the first meal you ever learned how to cook on your own. Maybe it’s the meal you love to eat when its….ahem, that time of the month. Regardless of why you eat it or how it came to be your favorite meal, it’s your comfort food. This is the food that brings to mind feelings of safety and contentment every time someone puts a plate of it down in front of you.
My favorite meal has changed a lot since I was a kid. If you asked me ten years ago what my favorite meal was, I’d probably say McDonald’s. I mean, my mom once told me my first word was McDonald’s, so I’m not trying to be cute here. The bond that Ronald McDonald and I had was once strong and ever lasting.
Until I developed a fear of clowns and had to pay for a meal myself. With my money.
After McDonald’s, I was in love with lasagna. Madly in love. And not even with homemade lasagna, but Stouffer’s Lasagna that you get from the frozen foods aisle in the supermarket. I used to beg my mom to buy it, and then proceed to eat myself sick every time she did.
It got to the point where she had to make two at a time. One for my brother’s and herself, the other for my step-dad and I. By eight I could eat as much as all the men in my family, and when it came to lasagna there was no limit. I ate until I hated myself and then still looked around the kitchen like a raccoon, hoping to find more.
I wish I could say I have a healthier relationship with food, but I recently had shrimp macaroni and cheese and I know that I have another addiction forming.
After lasagna I was in love with fries. I even wrote an essay about it in middle school. I waxed poetic for five paragraphs about the perfect fry, why they’re my favorite, etc. I got a B on that essay but I’ve never felt prouder to turn in a piece of writing.
Fries were my thing, don’t even get me started about which fast food franchise has the best fries (Burger King, hands down. If you feel differently meet me at dawn. Weehawken), which franchise has let their fry quality go down (McDonald’s, stale fries aren’t happy fries, Ronald. I thought you knew this), and when could you tell a fry was perfect (golden and crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside).
I was a connoisseur of fries. I could have written a book, and then promptly toured and given TEDtalks I was so into fries. Only reason I am not at this moment stuffing my face with fries, is that my skin did not take well to the copious amount of fat greasy foods I took in weekly.
That’s why comfort foods are best eaten sporadically. Typically, a comfort food is something that not only tastes good, but is also a little unhealthy for you. I mean, lasagna has all the food groups (because lasagna is perfect), but too much of it can make you sick or make you gain weight. Same thing with fries.
I loved lasagna and I loved fries because I didn’t get to have them all that often and because both meals have happy memories associated with them. Lasagna made me think of my family, sitting around the dinner table, competing with my step father over who could eat the most lasagna (always him, I was only a child! It was rigged from the start) making my brother’s laugh, and just relaxing after a long day.
Fries makes me think of my grandpa, going on long drives and stopping for McDonald’s or greasy diners so I could get my burger and fries. We’d listen to music super loud and compare knowledge of the lyrics and the streets around us. It didn’t matter where we were going, didn’t matter how long it took to get there. It was just a moment where I could relax and be a little kid.
Currently, I don’t have a comfort food. I’ve been really expanding on what I eat and going out with friends more. Which is awesome if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new, but kind of hard to settle for a comfort food. If you have any idea of foods that will make a great new comfort food for me, leave a comment.
(I listened to Teenage Dream by Katy Perry while writing this.)