Monday, October 06, 2008

What is so comforting about certain foods? A prior post revisited

This weekend there was a story on FOX NEWS about comfort food, in that it seems in these times economic uncertainty, America turns more to comfort food.

Which brings me back to a few posts I made four years ago asking the musical question: what is comfort food?  Is there really a dish (or dishes) that make people feel better about themselves, about the economy, about life in general?

I still am lost at this concept.  Never have I had a rotten day at the office (or in my commute) and came home thinking I'd like a bowl of ______ to feel better.  Sure, I get hungry -- that's fine.   If there's a movie I want to watch, do I think popcorn?  Yes, but I am not guaranteed to make any.    Do I sometimes forage around the kitchen for something?  Of course, but that's again hunger.  

But as for cravings?   No, I can't say I've had them. 

The steadfast comfort food  favorite, from my limited research, has been macaroni and cheese, but I still receive perplexed looks from people when I ask whether baked ziti would be an equivalent.   Not that I ever crave ziti, but that baked ziti is - in most preparations - macaroni and cheese, yet no one seems to equate it with the traditionally known mac and cheese -  perhaps it isn't the food, but the color of the cheese that comforts?

Apparently, I am in a certain minority with this opinion, as Technorati has plenty of hits on the subject of .

The FoxNews story above suggests soups and stews are becoming popular.  Should I hazard to guess those dishes usually become popular in the fall, or would that be obstinate?  Consider, however, that stews and soups are often relatively easy to prepare, use relatively inexpensive ingredients, and can be reheated with ease, making a large pot last a longer time; with all the doom and gloom reported about the economy these days, doesn't a meal with such versatility make even more sense?

When I last discussed this on another blog (the now defuncted A Small Victory) I was told of people who look to comfort food as a way of triggering their memories of childhood (the video above makes a similar reference).  Now I recognize that aromas are powerful triggers to memories, and while I suppose I had a good childhood, I cannot think of any meal that triggers a specific recollection of any specific good time that would make me crave a certain dish.   And believe me when I tell you:  my mother, my grandmother: both kick-ass good cooks, as is my MBH.

So I ask you, the readers, to educate me:  what is comfort food to you?  What does it mean, and why?   When do you indulge in this comfort, and how often do you do it?   

And to those who are like me, who don't get comfort food: speak up... maybe there's a marketing myth to this comfort food sensation, and we've been all conditioned to accept mac-n-cheese as the perennial favorite because of some evil cabal of a pasta and dairy consortium. 

Or maybe it's just me: maybe I am just simply lacking something that all others apparently have in their psyche.  Heh, it wouldn't be the first such missing item...

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