Mary Jo Brown: Food can be such a comfort
November 3, 2013
This past week, I was having a problem with food. Usually food and I get along real well, but my stomach was not cooperating and I had to think differently about food for most of the week. Food to me represents comfort, a basic need and represents a form of security while also being a token of love.
One of my favorite foods is pinto beans with bacon in it or pintos that have been refried and eaten with tortillas. Then there is freshly made bread like my grandma made, hot out of the oven with real butter that drips from your fingers. My mom made elbow-roni with sauteed tomatoes, onions and seasoning just for me — a gift of love. Even now I try to make them as close to original as possible. Often I come close to creating the same recipes and sometimes I think the missing ingredient is the love of the person who made it for me. I often have heard people say, "No one can make this like my mom did," or "My grandma always made the best." A lot of that has to do with the love and devotion that was put into the making of the food.
I like foods that remind me of home when I was a child, and food that brings back a feeling of well-being and maybe even consolation at times. My dad had what he called a "poor man's steak" sandwich that was really a bologna sandwich and sometimes the bologna was fried and eaten on toast. Although they might seem simple nowadays to us, some foods were a treat, such as fried potatoes with onion in it or fried chicken on Sundays.
The warm memories still are around the food made for when we have company like roast, mashed potatoes, fresh salad and, of course, biscuits.
I was taught to cook by my grandmother and my mother. Measuring was done by using a pinch of this and a cupped handful of that. No measuring cups, you just learned to do it by feeling it. This worked well for me up until I was asked for a recipe for something then I had to figure out what a pinch equaled and how much a cupped handful was since not all people's hands are the same size.
As I get older and my health changes, I have changed my eating habits. I now have to use willpower not to indulge in some of the foods I crave, but I also have found some new foods thanks to the varieties available at the store, fast food restaurants and the microwave. I still get homemade meals occasionally thanks to my daughters and sisters. I'm feeling better now as I have gotten homemade soups and other food from my family. I fell better in remembering my old comfort foods and enjoying my new foods and making new memories with my family to add to my list of things that bring me comfort, security and love.
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