Comforts foods are your personal food. Wherever you are, whatever situation you are in, whether the food is healthy or unhealthy or you feel guilty eating it. It does not matter as long as you feel a sense of well being eating it. The foods relate to our feelings of nostalgia, love and security.
David Oates, UK
Would you believe it but Dorothy and I don’t have comfort foods as they are generally foods which make you put on weight! There are foods which we like and enjoy but not foods which we ‘crave’ for or can’t do without.
Comfort foods in this country are seen as chocolate, cake, biscuits, ice cream, sweets and crisps. We do have memories of food and for us it is from a time of food rationing during World War II. Food at that time was in very short supply and very basic. I recall my mother had a menu for the week and this was repeated week after week. Any special ‘treats’ had to be saved for out of the weekly allowance of food but somehow mothers managed it. Dorothy remembers having to share one egg with her sister so that they had half an egg each. Today we would enjoy a whole egg and maybe two!
Susan Gordon, USA
Comfort foods are interesting and probably they’re different for Americans than Japanese. I think most comfort foods are those we ate when we were children, especially when we were sick, or sad about something. Even today, I have some “old” favorites, including Campbell’s tomato soup mixed with milk instead of water, macaroni and cheese, canned pears or peaches, and Ritz crackers with jam or peanut butter.
A true comfort food recipe should never change. The tomato soup must always be mixed with milk, and the cheese in macaroni and cheese should be cheddar or something like it. When I was a child, we used Velveeta (which was more like a cheese-food molded into a small block).
To me, comfort foods should not be very spicy or exotic. They should be soothing and easy to eat. I was very lucky to be raised, in large part, by my grandmother, who was a wonderful cook and baker. Whenever I came home from elementary school, our apartment smelled heavenly because Grandma had baked chocolate chip cookies, or a fruit pie such as cherry pie, or she had deep-fried doughnuts which were incredibly delicious!
No matter how old we grow, I don’t think we ever lose our (occasional) yearning for our own special comfort foods.
Stephen Jones, UK
My comfort food would be, and this will sound strange, crackers. I love crackers, something about their texture and taste (which isn’t much). They are dry, but you can eat as many of them as you like and they won’t make you fat but are just like crisps, munchy!
My food memory is that I would always eat all of the leftovers. I became known as the Gannet, as in the bird. If there was anything left, somehow I could always eat my dinner and then finish off whatever was left. I’ve somehow managed to avoid being fat.
With Sharleen it’s cake, sponge cake to be exact. Also, when she was young her food memory is of a traditional Jamaican dish called Ackee and salt fish. She remembers that whenever her mum would be making it, her and her sisters and brothers would always sneak into the kitchen and try to get a little taste of it before it was properly dished out for dinner.
Anne Connor, USA
This sounds like fun research! My quick comfort food to grab on the go is chicken wings. In Vermont the wings and drumsticks are fried and coated with different spicy sauces and they are a chewy treat! When I have more time and I’m at home my comfort food is a tuna cheese omelet any time of the day that I need comfort!
Tom Walker, UK
We have many comfort foods to name but a few: Cheese, Soup, Chocolate, Chocolate cake, Fruit Cake, Apple Pie with custard, Fish & Chips with salt & vinegar, Christmas cake with marzipan icing, Christmas pudding with rum sauce, Meat pie & mushy peas, Bacon & egg and Bread & butter pudding. We call these comfort foods when we are cold & hungry. They fill you up quickly.
Isako Okazaki ward, UK
A fish pie. A mixture of fresh and smoked white fish cooked in milk and added to a white sauce with some chopped boiled eggs and covered with creamy mushed potatoes. The finishing touch is a good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top, then baked in the oven until it is golden brown & the cheese is bubbling. Absolutely delicious, soft, and very comforting!
Peter Parkinson, Japan
There are only two that come to mind at the moment; mashed potato mixed with a broken up boiled egg and a large blob of butter. Also anything involving chocolate. Yumie, yumie!
Ken Baynton, UK
This is when someone feels frustrated and disappointed in their lifestyle, possibly because it is lacking something. Someone in this condition can often turn to alcohol or to over eating. In the case of the latter this is referred to as comfort eating. I’m sure this will never happen to you Yasuko as your busy lifestyle is so demanding.
George Russell, UK
My favourite meal is roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, vegetables & roast potatoes. I also enjoy fried bacon, eggs & tomatoes. My favourite vegetables are brussel sprouts, leeks, & cauliflower. I enjoy lamb chops joint, or steak with mint sauce. Also most fish, mainly cooked in milk. Prawns in a prawn cocktail or a sandwich with tartare sauce on them.
If I am not feeling well I have what we call Milk Pobs, which is just bread broken up, a little sugar on it and hot milk. Enid used to make a cheese dish that was very tasty. I enjoy bread, rice and sponge puddings.
My earliest memory is eating bananas for the first time. Just after the war my uncle came back from South Africa where he had been a Flying Officer. He brought some bananas back with him. I do not remember eating one before. On my return from Japan my Mum cooked my favourite dinner, roast beef & Yorkshire Pudding. No one could make Yorkshire Puddings like my Mum!
I enjoy most fruits, oranges, lovely red apples and grapes. I start my day with a cup of hot water, brown bread and a banana.
Jean & John Francombe, UK
Jean says that even after 54+ years in England her answer would be “Japanese boiled rice, miso soup, mochi and sushi ,with green tea!” My reply is “roast beef and yorkshire pudding with an English cup of tea”, something very traditional in England.
Of course, as you would expect, our food does include a good mix of Western and Oriental, including Japanese, foods. Jean converted me to liking a variety of food tastes a good many years ago and I enjoy it. She is a brilliant cook! For example, the Christmas Day Dinner is the traditional roast turkey, duck, or chicken with Christmas Pudding. For a number of years now, however, the Boxing Day meal has been a Japanese special meal, and the family all love it.
Wilf Aldridge, UK
For Gill - `chips` (British style) at any time of the year.
Mine are: in the summer: salad with salmon and, in the colder months, a roast English dinner with beef or lamb. And in Japan, I like to try everything, although my favourite is probably assorted sushi in a sushi bar (where the plates go round on a conveyor belt). My preferred sweet (pudding) is rhubarb crumble.
Malcolm Smith, UK
Perhaps an example of our own eating habits will be of interest. The traditional full English breakfast consists of fried bacon and fried egg usually accompanied by some if not all of the following. Baked beans, fried mushrooms, fried bread, and fried potatoes. We invariably have this when staying in hotels and sometimes at weekends but at home we usually have packet cereals together with milk; Yoghurt and coffee. For lunch we may have a bacon sandwich with sliced tomatoes and potato crisps or a bowl of soup followed by a banana or orange. For dinner at around six o’clock we have a wide variety of meats always accompanied by potatoes and at least two green vegetables followed by a sweet or cheese with biscuits. We eat fish less often but I particularly like shellfish.
Incidentally Margaret is an excellent cook. We always drink red wine with dinner, usually French or New world. We are not fond of Italian German or Spanish wine. After dinner we sit in our lounge watching TV with a cup of coffee and a shared chocolate bar!
Rosanna Hood, UK
I have lovely memories of baking shortbread with my Grandma when I was a little girl. I’d help weigh the flour and rub in the butter whilst we chatted. After pressing it in the baking dish Grandma would give me a spoon to smooth the mixture down with and I’d poke the shortbread with a fork. I can remember the lovely buttery taste and the way Grandma would sprinkle the golden baked shortbread with sugar.
Margaret Nicholls, UK
We have two comfort foods. Pancakes freshly cooked with lemon and sugar and steamed syrup pudding. What an intriguing question?!
John & Margaret Hartley, UK
Let me tell you of my memories from being quite young and during the time of the 1939-1945 war years when food rationing was in force all over the UK.
Perhaps one of the favourites of my sister and me was the result of homemade cooking by our mother which she called “wait and see” pudding. This was a suet sponge pudding in a basin boiled in water. It could have different flavours of jam or syrup at the bottom of the basin. When it was brought to the table the basin and its contents were upside down. We questioned what flavour of the pudding and our mother would say “wait and see”. She then released the contents of the basin to reveal what the topping flavour was. I think our favourite was raspberry probably because it was a red colour. This was an economical dessert for the wartime dinner and it brought a little excitement into our young lives. Of course sweets and confectionery were in short supply and we were only allowed one sweet per day. Most likely this would be a toffee wrapped in paper.
Moving on to the present day I have to say I do have a weakness for egg custard tarts. Although these are available in local bakery and confectionery shops, my attraction to these originates in our visits every two weeks to our supermarket, Sainsbury’s. These are made on the premises and are packed into boxes of two and four. However they are always strategically displayed and priced at one pound for a box of four. To my eyes they are irresistible and I guess they sell thousands every day. Margaret does not approve! Then, even if I eat all four, I have to wait over the period of two weeks and that surely does not harm my diabetic condition. However, I conclude with my piece de resistance in which I can share with both my grandchildren, Peter (13) and Rosa (16). Again it is a home made preference produced by Margaret. “Sticky Toffee Pudding”. This is such a treat and enjoyed by not only our family but also our friends. This pudding fulfils all the virtues of the word “comfort”. Following a full meal the only resort for me is to sit in a soft chair with a smile of satisfaction on my face and slowly sink into a gentle slumber.
Perfect! I recommend this to all.
#136 Vol.26 No.2 April-June 2011
Allan Milsted, UK
My comfort food are POTATOES. Potatoes are a carbohydrate food and very filling. The potato can be prepared and served in many ways and for me they are delicious. They come in quite a few varieties such as early, main crop and late crop which can be stored satisfactorily and carry us through the winter months until the next year early ones appear.
My earliest memory of liking potatoes was growing up as a young boy during the second World War. The UK, as an island, was very much isolated during this time and the country was required to convert much of its pasture into arable land to grow wheat, oats and barley as well as many types of vegetables. Not only did the farmers transform the landscape into crops, the ordinary population was encouraged to grow as much as it could by utilising their gardens to grow foodstuffs. Our family did and potatoes were quite easy – just had to do a lot of digging to prepare the soil. I’m pleased to say that this, at the current time, has become the current trend in order to have nice fresh items tasting much better than those which come from many other parts of the world with little taste.
I have a few vegetables growing in my garden and, guess what? One of them is the potato. I favour the early type of potato which I can grow in special containers. As they form tubers I cover the growing shoots with a mixture of soil, compost and some organic matter I get from stables. The end result is quite unique.
Potatoes are very versatile and can be cooked and served in many ways, such as: Boiled (New and Main crop), Roasted, Chips (French fries), Jacket (scrubbed and baked whole), and Sauteed.
The dishes that can be prepared from these are substantial:
1. When boiled they can be mashed with butter, milk and cream. Apart from accompanying meat and other vegetables for a main meal, the mash can be used to make such things as a covering on shepherds and cottage pies, or even mixed with grated cheese to cover a fish pie. Sometimes the mash is mixed with other vegetables such as cabbage, sweet potatoes, swede and turnips. Boiled new potatoes are often used cold as part of a potato salad in the Springtime.
2. Roast potatoes can be done in the oven in a fat which can vary from a vegetable oil to an animal fat. They can also be dry roasted which are also delicious.
3. We all know about potatos it comes to one of our favourite meals - Fish & Chips. One of my favourite meals is Ham, Egg & Chips which Joyce and I relish every Saturday evening.
4. Jacket potatoes are very popular. They are left with the skins on after a good scrubbing and can be baked in a combi microwave oven. The can be filled with either a knob of butter, sweetcorn, Tuna mayonnaise, baked beans and many other fillings. A very healthy snack meal with good fibre in the skin.
5. Sauteed are very nice. These are pre-cooked potatoes which are sliced and gently fried in some oil or butter. These are delicious with one of our favourite breakfasts, the Full English.
I can’t go on any further because I’m beginning to feel very hungry. One thing we must remember is that all of these dishes I’ve mentioned are quite full of calories and the answer to full enjoyment is to ensure that we don’t eat too big a portion.
John Hartley, UK
I could not resist coming back to you about your exposure on comfort foods in your last issue of Parkway. The reference to the full English breakfast perhaps deserves an explanation.
To quote our famous author and playwright Somerset Maughan “To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day”! Clearly both an exaggeration and a tribute to this most revered meal of the day which is something of an English institution. Now, of course, much copied by various English speaking nations of the world.
Its composition is of fried foods –bacon, eggs, tomatoes, sausage, baked beans, fried bread, mushrooms and black pudding. We English might well describe this dish as food for the gods!
The full English breakfast is available in thousands of hotels, restaurants, cafes, even some roadside mobile kitchens. Its history goes back several centuries to rural England and the farm workers who woke early to start their day’s work. They needed a well filled stomach to sustain them before setting off to work in the fields. However, it must be said that today’s version of the breakfast has evolved from something much simpler and clearly contains more calories.
This photograph gives an accurate sight of our beloved breakfast. I enjoy such a meal once a week when I attend a breakfast meeting at a local university. Margaret, my wife, is not too pleased about this considering I am a diabetic!
Susan Gordon, USA
Your comments made me remember a very sad book I read about 15 years ago. The name of the book is
In Memory’s Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin. It is about Jewish women in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. These women were starving, and given very very little food. So what did they talk about? Food. They talked about their recipes -- how they cooked meats, soups, vegetables, noodles and grains, and baked cakes, pies and cookies for their families. Some of the women managed to write down their recipes on small pieces of paper. They were collected by a Jewish woman prisoner named Mina Pachter who put them into a hand-stitched book that she made. Before Mina died in the camp, in 1944, she gave the book to a friend and asked him to give it to her daughter who was in what soon became Israel. The friend survived the war but it took 25 years for him to find Mina’s daughter. Eventually, she found a publisher to print the recipes and the stories behind them.
“Hunger wrote these dishes,” said a reviewer. “The famished authors wrote of the finest delicacies ... rich strudels, tortes, creams, and glazed fruits and more. It was as if the recipes nourished the hungry women who recorded them.”
Nick Chapman, UK
Comfort foods are things people often eat when they are feeling down or upset, and while it depends on the person, comfort foods are generally comforting to eat. This could be because they are warm meals or sweet desserts or maybe because they remind the person of happy memories.
I very much enjoy chilli con carne, steaks, cake and coke-a-cola, for example.
#137 Parkway Vol.26 No.3 July-September 2011