A few Sundays ago, as I felt the onset of yet another cold, I found myself craving a grilled cheese sandwich. I didn’t just want the sandwich though, I wanted to cuddle up in a pair of warm sweats and grab a book while someone made me a grilled cheese sandwich. It was the comfort I craved more than anything else. I wanted someone to take care of me just as my mom used to do.
“Did Nonna make you grilled cheese when you were sick?” the Diva asked in her perceptive way.
She did, but grilled cheese sandwiches were not just for days when we were sick. They were for cold outside days. They were for days when the snow blanketed the ground and icicles clung to the eves. We ate grilled cheese when friends came over to play and laughter filled the halls of our house. Grilled cheese sandwiches are simply a food from my past; they are a comfort food.
We all have them – the comfort foods. The things we eat when we need to relax, to settle, and to feel some sense of care and nurture that takes us back to our past. Some restaurants have capitalized on this idea and feature “comfort food” as a theme.
While I have fond memories of grille cheese sandwiches from my childhood, I have no idea what the Diva will call her comfort food as she is rarely under the weather, is not home a great deal of time, and is not a big eater anyway. Will she find comfort in yogurt? Or maybe for her it is capallini? A big hunk of mozzarella cheese? Perhaps, for her, it won’t be food but it will be something else?
Comfort can be found in so many forms. During January and February, it is not unusual to find me reading in bed surrounded by the warmth of my duvet. Or perhaps I make like a cat and find the sunniest patch on the floor to bask for a while escaping from the winter chill.
The Diva has her comfort activities. She hugs, she touches, she cuddles… and when these options aren’t available to her, she can be found sitting in her favorite chair with her dog wearing her most cuddly pajamas. That said, lately she has been escaping to the bath tub for a long soak while listening to an audio book. (She has yet to figure out how to keep a paperback dry while lounging in the bubbles)
Comfort food and activities allow us to relax. They are the known, the enjoyed, and the easy. For the few minutes or hours we are enjoying that comfort, we are able to leave the challenges of the world behind us, letting our bodies and minds relax. They do not provide an escape so much as they allow us to take a break and return to a place, a time, or a feeling that is comforting.
I never had my grilled cheese sandwich the other day. I am not sure that I am still craving it. I am now focused on the foods that leave me feeling warm (because people, it is cold outside), or healthy. It is the season of soup!!