The weather is shifting from the hot, come-hither days of summer to the chilly slant of autumn and it seems everyone is craving comfort food. And maybe it’s not just because we’re heading indoors to flee the cold. Perhaps the “nostalgiancholy” that hits this time of year, where everything seems steeped in memories and somehow raw with emotion, is making us crave something richer, something more soulful.
I was getting a haircut recently when conversation turned to comfort food (between Kathleen, Deirdre and me in that salon, conversation often turns to food). We started with what to cook in a big, old Le Creuset . . . which led us to braised pork shoulder and various types of stews . . . which led to Kathleen’s method of roasting chicken in her Dutch oven.
“Roast chicken saved my life once,” Deirdre chimed in. Her gaze was distant. She, someone who loves to cook, went on to tell of the early days after a rough divorce when just gathering groceries leveled her, sparse as they were for one. So for a time she turned to frozen meals and convenience foods while the sorrow swept through.
And then, she roasted a chicken.
“It warmed the house up and made it smell like somebody lived there again,” Deirdre said. “It made me feel like things were OK, like I was OK.” Amazing how food has the power to do that; to wrap itself around us like a giant, ephemeral hug.
For all our talk of mac ‘n’ cheese and braises and pizza and soup, in Deirdre’s words, I heard the true meaning of comfort food.