“Comfort Food”

oil painting

Comfort Food

“Comfort Food”

16”x20” oil on canvas

Comfort food by definition is food prepared in a traditional style usually having a nostalgic or sentimental appeal, or can be simply an easy-to-eat, easy-to-digest meal rich in calories, nutrients.

Food is synonymous with so many things in our lives besides just sustenance; it can mean a celebration, worship, sympathy, compassion, and comfort.  Here in the states it seems we have a cake to celebrate about everything…..weddings, birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, retirement, holidays, you name it, we have cake for it.  Would you feel like something was missing if you celebrated any one of those things without the cake?  How different would a wedding reception be if you didn’t have the cake or the traditional cake in the face wedding pictures??  What about not having food present at all, would the celebration still be the same?  I mean, think about Thanksgiving without the feast!!??!!  How would that work??  The true meaning of the holiday is to give thanks for all of our blessings but we prepare a meal as our way of giving thanks and celebrating it.

It is custom here to also present food to a family when they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one or if they’re faced with a hardship such as an illness.  I think it is meant to console as well as to be a convenience.  I think it is to make sure they not only have food but do not have to worry about getting it and preparing it or making sure they have enough to feed extra family members and friends that are there.  Sometimes it’s also a way of remembering the person lost.  It might be in memory of the person, maybe that person’s favorite food or a dish that that person was “famous” for.  I remember my uncle Ervin every time I have a dessert that has been dubbed “blueberry or cherry delight”.  It is somewhat like cheesecake (only better) and is something we’ve had in his memory several times.  It was something he always made and brought to family get-togethers and was known for.

After I married and my extended family grew, I acquired new “food memories”.  I remember my father in law and his fondness of rhubarb pie.  I remember the meals my husband’s grandma fixed—always amazing!  They owned a dairy farm so things were always fresh!  I remember his grandpa making peanut brittle during the holidays.  That was probably one of the few times grandma Millie actually allowed him to take over her kitchen!

I have fond memories of several members of our family who are still here but that have a special dish or something they prepared at special occasions.  My grandma Eva always baked us homemade angel food cakes with icing glaze for our birthdays.  One year, she gave me the cake on a platter that belonged to my great grandma.  What a memory—I plan to pass that down to my children one day.  I also remember the meals my grandma made for all of us after long days of putting up hay in the summer.  I remember them pulling up a hay wagon and spreading the food out on it.  My mom is also sort of known for her cooking abilities in our family.  I’m not sure there’s anything that she can’t cook.  It has become somewhat of a tradition now that we’re grown, for her to fix a family dinner with one of our favorite dishes for each of our birthdays.  Something that is better than any store bought gift or card!  I must admit, her cooking abilities are not something that all of her children have completely mastered.  We have our moments that we pull off a pot of chicken and dumplings, or a batch of dinner rolls that rival hers, however, more than once one of the grandkids have made the comment about some other dish; “that’s not how grandma makes it or it’s not as good as grandma’s”.  Only to be met with a glare and/or the words, “maybe you should go to grandma’s house then”….ha ha…..  My dad’s side of the family are of German decent and when we get together, food is always present and is a way of socializing.  You eat and visit.  You do not leave grandma’s house without eating something and you will never leave her home hungry.  I learned that at a very early age.

Food can also be a comfort.  Probably why I should be exercising more….some issues in life just require more comfort than others!  Some foods just make you feel better.  Whether they really have healing powers or just a hidden mind trick, who knows, but, they are a comfort.  There are times when you just NEED that piece of chocolate and get bent out of shape when you find someone has eaten it all.  How many times have you gotten hurt as a child or were upset over the latest “world crushing” event in your life, or had a cold or a sore throat and mom gave you some sort of treat to make it all better?  Popsicles cure sore throats, ice cream heals hurt feelings, chocolate heals broken hearts, and soup cures a cold…..right??

 

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