Comfort Food – for when you need something to make you feel better.

Comfort Food.

In the midst of the snow last week and being (sadly and oh so reluctantly) forced to stay at home instead of going to work I had a sudden odd yearning to make scones – fruit scones to be exact. And so I did. Hunting out my mother’s old, battered, world travelled Women’s Weekly Cookbook I made scones. It was a bit of a challenge, given it is years since I’ve made scones and given the age of the cook-book it was all imperial measures, so some time was spent converting with the help of the internet – oh, helpful & wonderful thing that it can be.

 

My first batch were more like rock-cakes: the mixture rolled too thin with old SR flour, still they tasted fine enough. The second batch were a marvel and a delight. And it set me to wondering what is it about scones that is so comforting, indeed it set off a whole train of thought on comfort food. Which, as I publish on Mothering Sunday here in the UK, seems entirely appropriate.

Scones are things connected to my mum and nans – ladies who belonged to the CWA (Country Women’s Association) for whom baking was a part of life. Mum was only a so-so sort of cook but still she could manage a decent batch of scones and a few basic cakes; so making my scones, using her book made me feel close to her again and it was a comfort to me – even now, after all these years it’s nice to feel close to her.

 

Perhaps this cosy feeling we have from baking – either baking ourselves or receiving the fruits of the baking – explains the run away success of the Great British Bake Off, and many other cookery shows. Indeed Nigella springs to mind.

Home make food is a comfort. I am of an age when a home-cooked meal was the norm, and for my own family it was too. We associate home-cooking with love, care; with home and feeling safe. We are comforted by home-cooking, by the smell of baking, by the aroma and taste of freshly cooked meals. Who doesn’t love the smell of baking bread, of roasting lamb, of pumpkin soup? Even the simple smell of brewed coffee and toast – who doesn’t feel better with those aromas in the vicinity?

Food has become an area of danger and politics, of fashion and trends, and obesity is the newest disease and every day some new study warns us about sugar, or fat or bacon. Governments set out healthy eating advice, legislate against sugar and fat and push for honest labelling. We can’t escape food – be we thin, fat, poor or rich.

We all have our own comfort food – our go-to bit of nourishment when we feel crook, or unhappy or tired, or even for celebrations. Comfort food is exactly what it says it is – food that comforts you, that makes you feel better, that lifts your mood, or makes you feel a bit less wretched about yourself or the world.

When I’m sick I want tomatoes on toast, with lots of butter and salt and pepper. I have no idea why, but every time a cold sweeps in, even post-migraine, I want fresh fat red tomatoes on toast. It’s wonderful. And every time I do feel better afterwards. It puzzles me as I am not usually a great tomato eater … clearly my body knows something my brain doesn’t!

 

Comfort food is simple, plain honest food. It’s easy and quick to prepare. It hits the spot in moments and so you feel better in minutes.

I have a list of things that make me feel better… the afore-mentioned tomatoes on toast, scones, fresh and warm with melting butter or jam and cream; peanut butter on toast, vegemite and toast, jam and toast (there’s a theme here!), melted cheese on toast, ham and cheese toasties, sardines on toast; soup – chicken noodle, tomato pumpkin: packet, tin or homemade; plain Cadbury dairy milk chocolate; eggs and bacon, egg and bacon pie; cold lamb sandwiches with tomato, and sausages – especially thin beef Australian sausages (although I just love the simplicity and honesty of sausages, be they English French or Australian), barbecued and in a slice of white bread with tomato sauce. Actually there is a lot of tomato in a range of guises herein…

 

Mostly this is winter stuff – I guess that’s when we get sick the most and the need the most comfort – snuggled up in bed, or by a roaring fire, feeling sorry for ourselves, needing lovely simple food stuffs to make us feel better. But in Summer there’s nothing more comforting on a stinking hot day than an icy glass of coke, a chilled slice of watermelon, a lemonade icy pole – the cheap ones! And, of course, the most comforting drink of all – champagne, because it comforts and celebrates and is good with so many food stuffs, especially the wantonly naughty and comforting KFC and pizza (homemade or take-away – thank you Pizza Hut) and at any time of the year. Stick a frozen strawberry or raspberry in your bubbles and you have an utterly blissfully comforting drink for all occasions.

So, have a think, what is your go-to comfort food – is there only one? (Images from Private Collection)

 

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