Comfort food is what we turn to when we are feeling run down or under the weather, experiencing a bit of stress, or maybe suffering from a hangover the day after a party. Comfort food often evokes a feeling of nostalgia, bringing back memories of the past – it might often be the dish that your mum made for you when you were sick as a child. Comfort food, therefore, will probably be different for each of us.
Our senses of smell and taste are able to trigger vivid memories of the past and there are certain dishes which I associate with different people, moments and places in my life. I have spent almost 30 years trying to recreate the taste of my Grandma’s chicken curry, for example. My widely travelled nana (grandmother), who taught me how to use chopsticks and take pleasure in food, used to make a curry whose smell I will never forget. Scrambled-egg will always remind me of a girl called Henrietta, who changed my life almost 20 years ago by encouraging me to move to London. On another evening in a different country, after being a vegetarian for 12 years, I remember a night in Barcelona with my friend, Andy, when a dish of local squid enticed me into giving up that vegetarian lifestyle for ever.
Last week, I talked about the changing seasons bringing about the beauty of the autumn leaves, after the heat and humidity of summer. What I forgot to mention, is that the change to autumn often brings with it influenza. Since early yesterday morning, poor little Hugo has been suffering from Influenza A type, with a temperature of over 39 degrees. What he needed for dinner last night was some of papa’s comfort food, and the little lad said he would like homemade tomato soup.
My first taste of homemade tomato soup came when I was a teenager, and my friend, Karl, and I headed down to London to stay with his Uncle Steven, an actor, 20 years older than ourselves. At the end of our long journey down to the big city by train, further down to Brixton on the Victoria Line and then across to Streatham on the double decker, we were in need of some food.
I will never forget the simple supper of homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches that Steven had cooked up for us.
That weekend we had our first taste of many things: the Notting Hill Carnival, Kentucky Fried Chicken in the park, and meeting famous people (Alan Rickman (photo left) for one!). But what sticks in my mind more clearly than anything to this day, was the comforting supper Karl’s uncle had prepared for us: it made a big impression on me both from a food point of view, and also from the observation that caring for your visitors can have such a lasting effect. I learnt a lot from Karl’s Uncle Steven, I guess we both did.
On the next post, I will explain how to make my own tomato and carrot comfort soup. 🙂 See you there!