Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Comfort Food

We bought Holland Rusks for my mother-in-law, who was conceived in Holland and spent her early years eating Dutch foods. Holland Rusks are now used, if at all, as a platform to put other things on, not as a stand-alone food. She eats them plain. I understand her comment: "They taste like sawdust, but they're familiar."

An elderly daughter of Swedish immigrants informed us one Christmas season that she was hurrying home to make lutfisk for her husband. "Does he like it?" we asked in amazement. She paused. "No, but he doesn't think it would be Christmas without it."

For my mother, also of Swedish extraction, all comfort foods were based on thickened milk: cream-dried beef; an impossibly bland Welsh rarebit that was nothing more than milk-and-melted-cheddar poured over Saltines; tapioca pudding, or rice pudding with a little cinnamon. (Those remain comfort foods for me as well, along with Campbell's cream-of-tomato with Ritz crackers in it.)

I wonder if fast foods have become the comfort foods of the following generations. McDonald's french fries are not very good. But they continually top the "best fries" charts, and I love them, too.

7 comments:

akafred said...

No, I think what we're seeing is the "Moxie effect" operating here. For instance, I've always contended (and my two daughters well know this) that if you're going to call yourself a New Englander you have to consume a bottle or two of Moxie a year. It makes no difference if you like it or hate it - it's simply your duty, your Yankeee responsibility. Hail tradition!

Jerub-Baal said...

There's nothing like leftover Christmas rice pudding, fried for breakfast in a little butter, and served with cream and maple syrup the next day. My maternal grandfather (of Swedish extraction) would do that every year when I was a kid. If I got up early enough he'ld share...

And I agree with akafred, if I lived in Los Angeles I'd have to get the Moxie shipped in a-la "Smokey and the Bandit"

Der Hahn said...

Ahh, the four food groups of the Upper Midwest

Meat
Potatoes
cream of mushroom soup
jello

:)

Erin said...

mmm....nothing like a good glass of battery acid to make you feel like a Yankee!

jaed said...

Interesting point about fast food becoming comfort food. I do find myself looking for Wendy's when tired and on the road - even when far better food is available, there's something about soggy fries and square hamburgers and watery Coke that I want when tired and far from home. Hmmm.

Jonathan Wyman said...

Erin, that's unfair. Battery acid doesn't have an aftertaste.

Erin said...

True...perhaps a battery acid, cough syrup cocktail?

Moxie's fine, it's the aftertaste that kills you.