warm thoughts for warming foods

please forgive me if i wander a bit with my words today. it's feeling like a free-form thought day.

i've been thinking a bit about comfort food recently. partly because the past few months have been difficult ones that have seemed to demand an extra portion of said food; partly because we seem to be genetically engineered to start craving comfort foods around this time of year; and partly because i think i may be getting sick (which i really hope i'm not, as today marks the first day of the follow-up office lunch study - but more about that in a later post). yesterday i was craving stuffing. for the past few months, pizza or anything with a tomato sauce/base would do. i can always eat french fries. and i've recently rediscovered soups, stews, and chowders, oh my.

the very nature of comfort food is to act as a quick fix or a sort of self-medicated solution to our physical or psychological ailments. unfortunately, looking at my list, my edible cures do not exactly equate healthy. but i'm guessing most people's comfort foods don't. for the most part, comfort foods seem to have a higher fat/caloric content, carb-laden, and, depending on your childhood memories and taste preferences, considerably more grease and/or sugar. there's a weight to comfort food; it has a different consistency to what we might normally choose. it grounds us so we can pick things back up and get going again. salads and leaves are not very comforting, although i do have a certain soft spot for spinach sautéed lightly in olive oil and sprinkled liberally with salt.

craving comfort foods can be a form of torture if that craving is unrequited. whole days and multiple meals can be ruined if you're dreaming of the flaky, buttery crust of your mother's famous meat pie that she used to make all the time when you were growing up and haven't had for ages ... and you somehow end up with luke-warm, stale tortilla chips and watery dip. and then, if you do find a chance to get something similar and somehow you end up seeing "sweeney todd" right before hand or after, well then you're just s.o.l. (mum, if you're reading this, i don't really need a meat pie or anything like that. this was a just an example. but look, i mentioned you here! wave to the camera moment!) comfort food denied is one of the lowest blows - it kicks hard and in the gut and it makes the whole world a little colder for a little longer.

i do like to think comfort foods are the fault of someone or some event in our lives. traditional holiday foods etch their way into our hearts over the years. families tend to embrace familiar cultural dishes. and the house cook usually has a specialty s/he makes that no one else can duplicate. and some foods just stand out. hot apple cider (spiked or not; freshly pressed or out of a packet, it doesn't matter) is always a comfort for me. it makes me think of snowy days hiding inside, the way the sun looks in autumn, and bamboo (sorry, can't explain the last one. it just does). and yet, i have no idea when apple cider took on such meaning to me or became so therapeutic. 

i'm not sure what i'm in the mood for right now. unfortunately, feeling sickly kills my appetite a bit. i'm not into sweets too much (i know, for some of you out there that's sacrilege). but, as i plod my way through the week and the follow-up office lunch study (be excited - be very excited! i know i am!), i'm open to suggestions. what's your comfort food and why?