The theme for the month of November is “Healing” and I thought about the healing power of comfort food.
When we are sick, or sad, or lonely, we might not feel in the mood for eating daring, experimental foods. We want to return to foods we know. When we need to heal, we want to return to people, places, food, and other familiar things we know and love.
Some of my best childhood memories are of being sick. That may sound strange – especially in the face of a global pandemic. And I DO NOT mean to imply that I welcome illness – especially during a global pandemic. And I, certainly, didn’t enjoy being ill…
But it was the comfort and special attention from my mom that I remember. No matter what ailed me, I could count on a “nest” to snuggle in on the couch. This included a certain afghan always brought out to comfort illness. If I had a cold or flu, I could count on chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and juice. If it was a “tummy bug”, we got “de-fizzed” ginger ale (we weren’t allowed to have soda, so that was a big deal). I could name a handful of meals we enjoyed on a regular basis, which, when I make and serve them now, bring me back to my family-of-origin table. I bet you can, too.
Today, when I’m feeling sick, or sad, or lonely – or feeling overwhelmed by world events – I find comfort in a grilled cheese sandwich. Or, another favorite – a bologna and cheese sandwich with a pickle, chips, and chocolate milk. These help center me in my “home base” and bring me comfort. When the rest of the world is overwhelming, I can nourish my body and soul with foods fondly remembered from childhood.
There are other ways of seeking comfort… petting the fur of your dog or cat is one. Making sure to get outside – if even just to sit in the sun bundled up – or for a short walk, is another. Being part of a church community is comforting, too – knowing that there are people who care if you are sad, or sick, or lonely.
During this global health crisis, we cannot be as physically close to each other and to our loved ones as we wish. And political divisiveness, social unrest, and economic instability are driving our need for human contact and care more than usual. It a cruel twist of fate that it’s all happening right now.
I hope you will take some time today to do something for yourself that truly provides comfort. Food, pets, outdoors… something that will make you happy. I’m off to the kitchen to find some healing cheese and bread…