Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Comfort Food

Woke up this morning with an aching fever and the memory of rugby and horseriding injuries in the vertebrae and canoeing accidents in the knee. Called in sick and was dead to the world for most of the morning, blanketed with the comforting smell of freshly-chopped carrot leaching its goodness into stodgy porridge bubbling in the slow cooker and groundnuts langurously intermingling with soya sauce in the steamer. Just basted a few chicken wings with honey and orange juice and popped them in the oven to roast. Their sweet aroma is filling the house even as I type.

Comfort food is food you that warms you on a cold winter's night in a foreign land and hugs you when you are ill. Comfort food is individual to the person. A homesick university-mate once dropped in on me just as I was taking an intense chocolate cake out of the oven one cold grey winter afternoon. I left her in the kitchen and chatted with another friend about philosophy and theology in another room. After a while of attempting to disprove each other's existence, we emerged to find my sheepish-looking mate, sticky knife in hand, standing over a now-empty cake pan, mumbling guiltily through her chocolate-stained teeth,"I couldn't help it...I really couldn't help it..."

The Brits have national obsession with stodgy comfort food from the nursery to boarding school to the board room: sizzling bursting bangers and steaming buttery mash, toad in the hole, macaroni cheese, shepherd's pie, bubble and squeak, spotted dick, baked beans on toast, bread-and-butter pudding made extra indulgent by generous lashings of double cream... warm plate in hand, sleepy dog snuggled at the feet, in front of the crackling fire, shielded from the year-round suicide-inducing bland grey rainy weather. Nigel Slater's a modern-day advocate of Brit comfort food. His recipes are unpretentious and fussfree but the results are deliciously heartwarming. Trust our good God to make simple foods so enjoyable!

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