About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Comfort Foods
I wanted to write a post about a particular dish that I think of as comfort food.

Now I'm troubled, as I don't know exactly what comfort food is. Is it food we are comfortable with because we grew up with it, or is it something that we eat that makes us feel comfortable? Perhaps it's more like an old friend that you haven't seen for a while but the conversation picks right up where you left off, your feelings towards them are unchanging, and that's so comfortable. Is it a food that can change our mood from down in the dumps to happiness, because we enjoy eating it so much? Maybe it's a combination of all these things.

I don't think things like caviar and truffles are comfort foods unless you consider the happiness that derives from being able to afford them in the first place. One thing I do know, is that comfort food is usually rich and heavy, suffering a surfeit of calories and cholesterol. So why do we call it comfort food when we know it's probably not the best thing to eat health wise?

Why isn't there a salad that could be considered comfort food, apart from Caesar Salad, which is no paragon of virtue, more the slutty harlot, with all that fatty bacon and fried bread croutons, oily mayonnaise dressing flavoured with high fat cheese along with little chunks of fish flavoured salt? I can just imagine all these guys laughing to themselves when the lettuce is added, in the manner of a hardened criminal asking a new jail inmate what he's in for and the reply is a parking ticket.

All these leads me to ask, is it possible to have comfort food with a modicum of good health?

The answer is I think so, at least the other night it seemed so. I cooked up cauliflower and broccoli with a cheese sauce, and baked it in the oven with a scattering of breadcrumbs. Our six year old M was having none of anything else that was on offer, but lapped up this particular dish.

As I watched her eat, it occurred to me that she was getting a few different food groups without necessarily ingesting huge amounts of calories.

M happily helped herself to an extra serving and I knew that besides the two different vegetables, there was some dairy, carbohydrates and protein. So what appeared to be comfort food for her, was surely a comfort to me.
  posted at 1:36 pm

At 8:25 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

You have saved my bacon with this post tankedup, you see S aged 4 is really into broccolli but not S aged 3. Now with cheese sauce S aged 3 and 4 are a bit bashful, but they might just like it cooked the way you suggest. I'll give it a go tomorrow and see.

At 10:59 am, Blogger Ange said...

One of my favourite comfort foods is curry which is strange as I never really ate it until I was an adult (unadventurous parents) so the theory of something from childhood is blown there. Also it doesnt have to be that bad for you depending on what type of curry it is, I think with curry its the warming factor that gets me!

At 5:30 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi pentacular, hope they like it. I used mozzarella with a bit of parmesan.

Hi ange, that sounds pretty good and healthy to me. Maybe you were an Indian or something in a past life!

At 8:55 pm, Blogger Shell said...

*hehe ... if you had plans on becoming president of the universe then i think the broccoli, cauli, cheese sauce recipe will do it for you! I LOVE this combo ... I haven't tried it with the cheeses you suggest but i will be doing that for sure. I also use cream and, if i have any in, a dollop of white wine as well. I have also been known to pep it up with some chilli seeds/flakes ... great for when i have my Ms Awkward head on and don't fancy ANYTHING ... er ... so that would be most of the time, then *grin*

At 9:26 am, Blogger Reb said...

I'm with Ange - curry = comfort food and pretty lean, as long as it's not drowning and oil and coconut milk. But the way I make cheese sauce ... er you're getting the vege but it's pretty rich :)

At 12:25 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi shell, president of the universe, hmm, that has a nice ring to it. My first decree will be comfort food for everyone!

Hi reb, maybe 'cause I enjoy a nice hot curry, just out of my comfort zone, it's hard to think of curry as comfort food. Sometimes as a parent you just don't care how those vegies get in. ;-)


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