Barb and Jenn, two gallant food bloggers, decided to rally fellow bloggers to raise awareness of and support for those affected by the super storm Sandy and the snow-ridden nor’easter that followed. The nor’easter added insult to injury for victims whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the hurricane.
The challenge follows:
Create a post on your own blog sharing a comfort dish – something that you would make for someone in need, to help them feel at home.
Now, what I consider comfort food may differ from what you consider comfort food. When I am apprehensive after having had a trying day or nervous before facing a difficult task, it’s a bowl of noodle soup that I seek comfort in: soft thick rice noodles, a flavourful stock made from long simmered bones and meat, hand-made shrimp wontons, slow braised bits of beef brisket, green onion, and cilantro.
When I asked Facebook about comfort food, my online community produced the following list:
- shepherd’s pie (or cottage pie)
- hot chicken sandwiches
- mac ‘n cheese (with or without hot dogs)
- chicken soup
- roast beef and yorkshire pudding
- roast chicken with roast potatoes and root veg and a green salad
- sausage and black bean chili with sour cream and freshly baked Italian bread
- “Full Scottish” breakfast
- beef curry
Strangely, the suggestions were entirely savoury
Why the disparity? Comfort foods have a cultural connection. Eaters identify with their food. There is a nostalgia component. Food evokes memories, reminders of trusted people or places where we felt safe. There is a satisfaction component that involves compensating for feelings of loss or being undervalued. Suffice it to say comfort and food are intimately related.
Curious one weekend, Jenn and I made a dish we saw mentioned in the American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady that chronicles the adventures of a pair of socially awkward physicists, The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, has fond memories of a spaghetti in tomato sauce dish his mother used to make him. She used to add hot dog pieces.
Here is Sheldon Cooper’s comfort food dish, which we recently learned closely resembles Filipino (sweet) Spaghetti. Salty and rich in carbs, we get it.
One of my wife’s comfort foods is noodles, no matter if they are dry fried or served in soup. I am very fond of slow braised meats. Put the two together with leftovers in the fridge and you’ve instant comfort food chez nous.
Add a runny fried egg and it’s a comforting breakfast.
A Curried Beef “Banh Mi”
To answer Barb and Jenn’s challenge (well, a second time), here is another comforting dish, a “banh-mi”-style sandwich that features leftover Thai yellow curry beef. The yellow curry beef was made on the stove top ostensibly as per instructions for “Kaeng Kari” from friend Leela whose blog She Simmers and satellite writings for Serious Eats provide much needed guidance in Thai cuisine. Though, I left out the potatoes and simmered the beef intercostals in the “cracked” coconut cream and curry paste mixture until they were tender (about 45 minutes).
As per the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich tradition, I employed a baguette which I crisped and hollowed out. Then, I smeared the inside of the baguette with a mixture of Greek-style yogurt, tahini, and lemon. In lieu of do chua (pickled carrots and daikon), I quickly poached savoy cabbage leaves in water that was adulterated with 2-3 tbsp of salted butter.
The pairing of floral curried beef, fresh green cabbage, and tempering nutty yogurt sauce just worked.
Sandwiches are particularly comforting to me, easy to make and imminently satisfying. It is comfort I love sharing with family and house guests.
Share some comfort on your end. Click here (Canadian link) to donate to the Red Cross. The Red Cross is doing everything in their power to help victims of hurricane Sandy.