Comfort food

Canned Tamales, Cold Pork & Beans, Mashed Potatoes. Photo courtesy of Kim Council

My friend, Kim, got some great news last week. Her sister’s Hepatitis C, which she has lived with for 30 years, is now undetectable. Which led to this bizarre meal her mother used to make: canned tamales, cold pork and beans, and mashed potatoes. Kim says it’s her English mother’s tribute to Mexican food. And for Kim this is comfort food and what her sister, Gloria, requested as a celebration meal.

Comfort food. Really more like memory food. Those odd combinations that are just so right, so indelibly linked to our past. Usually created by mothers, who had no idea at the time that their spur-of-the-moment thrown together creations would endure and, yes, comfort.

"Flat" chicken

For me, it’s a peanut butter and butter sandwich. I still eat them when I’m feeling a little blue. My mother probably just ran out of jelly and made the sandwich out of desperation to feed a five-year-old. For Mark, it’s blackberry cobbler. He can still see himself in his mind’s eye picking the blackberries with his Granny Belle. For Noah, it will probably be “flat” chicken and green noodles. Definitely a thrown-together meal with thin chicken cutlets dredged in seasoned bread crumbs and fried in oil and lemon juice, plus spaghetti with pesto sauce from the supermarket.

There is actually scientific evidence that proves that comfort food makes you feel better. Researchers at the University of Buffalo found that not only does eating comfort food elevate your mood, but just thinking about it is restorative. So here’s my other comfort food that I’m thinking about right now. Liverwurst. Yes, liverwurst. I’d tag along with my dad when he went to the butcher, who always gave me a slice of liverwurst as a treat. My mother never made liver so I didn’t know it was supposed to be yucky. All the Mayhews still love a good liverwurst sandwich: mayonnaise (lots of it, Duke’s naturally), thin sliced liverwurst and sliced white onion. We are prohibited from attending social events after eating these.

I’m thinking about a good stinking liverwurst sandwich right now and feeling pretty happy about it.


Filed under chicken, snacks, Uncategorized, veggies

4 responses to “Comfort food

  1. If you folks are coming in April, I’ll save my last batch of picked-last-summer blackberries and make Mark a cobbler with brandied hard sauce. Billy does not like blackberries so I’d much rather use for someone who would appreciate them! xo

  2. Joy McLemore

    Ahhh, comfort food…we all have it! My granddaughter Casey, who was the first girl on my side of the family in 50 years when she was born, has a “gourmet p-nut butter sandwich” as she calls it and I sort of adopted it as one of my own comfort foods. She spreads one piece of bread with the expected crunchy peanut butter, then spreads another piece of bread with grape jelly. She then tops one piece of bread with potato chips and puts the p-nut butter & jelly sides together crushing the chips just a bit – yum, crunchy and just enough salt!! Wonder if she makes her daughter gourmet peanut butter sandwiches? Kylie will be 3 in just a few days – I’ll have to remember to ask Casey about that at the birthday party Saturday!

  3. Jan

    One of my favorite meals is still canned hot tamales and pork & beans, with ketchup of course. I remember my (only child) neighbor’s parents worked at their downtown department store every day except Sun. – unlike me, whose mother cooked ‘family meals’ nightly, she got to have the best meals. The tamale dinner was my favorite, the other one was pan fried steak, french fries and pork & beans, lots of ketchup. I still think of Loretta when I eat pork & beans and I can hardly eat any meat without ketchup to this day.

  4. Comfort and, more important – healthy food. Good article.

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