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.
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.