December 27th, 2008

On Comfort Food.

Christmas food--and boy, there was some yummy food on Christmas, thanks to various members of bedfull_o_books's family--got me to thinking about comfort food.

As anyone who has been around me much at all can confirm, I get wacky food cravings. Many times these cravings are for dishes I consider comfort food.

This led me to consider what those dishes are, and why they have that place for me.

I think many of my comfort foods are ones I've eaten for many years, like 干炒牛河 (gān chăo niú hé: a. k. a. beef chow fun), or macaroni and cheese. Meat loaf is another. So are 水饺 (shuǐjiǎo: boiled dumplings), with some fairly pedestrian filling like 猪肉白菜 (zhū ròu bái cài: pork with Chinese cabbage). Some dessert foods are also, like ice cream sandwiches, or a 蛋挞 (dàn tà: egg tart). Or 杏仁豆腐 (xìng rén dòu fu: almond jelly/almond tofu/almond junket) but the kind made with agar, not tofu or gelatin (despite the names).

Occasionally, though, the craving is for something I never ate as a child, but nonetheless still fills the comfort food niche, like Cincinnati chili or Saag (साग/ساگ). (bedfull_o_books also considers Saag a comfort food. Neither of us grew up with it.)

I suppose it's all about keeping my not-so-inner child fed. That kid likes fat, sweet, and salt, it seems, and searches for the uncomplicated, unchallenging tastes I grew up with.

What foods say "comfort food" to you? What about them makes them comfort food?
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    rapidly becoming more hungry
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