in my humble opinion

Comfort food

Posted 3/26/24

I’m not what some folks call a “foodie,” and never have been. As a kid, I didn’t have much of an appetite and had to be coerced into eating. 

Like many in her …

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in my humble opinion

Comfort food


I’m not what some folks call a “foodie,” and never have been. As a kid, I didn’t have much of an appetite and had to be coerced into eating. 

Like many in her generation, mother was married by 18, and had little experience cooking. On the other hand, her mother, my Gramma Fay, was a gourmand. Additionally, mom had issues with my sister’s weight (too much) and mine (too little) so food often caused friction in our house, and by “friction” I mean yelling, tension and tears (Attorneys at Law).

My parents grew up during the great depression (1929-1939) and as a result had issues of their own concerning food. While neither lived in the lap of luxury, I’m under the impression that my mother never felt what is now referred to as “food insecure” but conversely, I was often told by the dearly departed Aunt Marcia that she and my father were downright poor. 

As a result, after they were married, good old dad (can you taste the sarcasm?) insisted that my mother should not put bread on the table and must serve only the finest cuts of meat and poultry. She was instructed (uh huh) that we were to never, ever indulge in simple fare like stews, one-dish meals or anything that resembled “poor people’s food.” 

Even to us kids it was evident that my father had issues with what was presented before him, and he was a tyrant at the dinner table. It was not unusual for arguments to ensue, or plates to be flung across the room, if something didn’t meet his insane standards of what a real meal should be. As a result, Mom quickly lost interest in trying to please. There were times, however, that Dad worked late or missed dinner for one reason or another (uh huh) and it was then that Mom treated us to things like grilled cheese and tomato soup, corned beef hash and eggs, Sloppy Joes and a scrumptious concoction called Tuna Wiggle, composed of tuna fish, cream of mushroom soup and peas served over toast.

 Looking back now, I’m fairly sure this was a dish popularized during the Depression and one of many designed to feed a family of four or more on a restricted budget. I think it was intended to be prepared as a casserole with noodles, but we ate it slathered over the forbidden blackened bread, and it was a little bit of heaven on a plate. Comfort food. 

It’s a term that many of us use in relation to our food cravings, but “What is it, really?” I asked the dog, who suggested that I look it up. 

According to the fine folks at GoodRX (dot com), “Comfort food can bring up happy memories, connect people, and celebrate family and cultural traditions. And this can have a positive impact on your mental health.”

The website elaborates, stating that “craving comfort food is also a common response to stress, sadness, and loneliness. But eating too many foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt” it warns, “can increase the risk of serious health conditions.” In conclusion, the article I admittedly skimmed advises that “mindful eating and having a variety of strategies for stress relief can help to balance the pros and cons of comfort food.”

To this day, I crave simple, comforting meals, and I don’t need a shrink to explain why. Meatloaf, burgers and turkey clubs are high on my list, along with one-dish meals, “diner food” and soup. 

I love soup, but will only consume it during the winter months. While I don’t consider myself a cook by any stretch of the imagination, I eat most meals at home and prepare them all myself.

I can easily handle the types of comfort food that almost exclusively makes up my diet, but I’ve never attempted to make any kind of soup other than the one that purports to heal all wounds, be they mental, physical or emotional—the world famous matzo ball, often referred to as “Jewish penicillin.”

I don’t know where or how I learned to make matzo ball soup. I don’t remember anyone ever teaching me, but I make it when the weather cools and I make it the only way I know how: in large batches—enough to “serve a small army and fill the freezer” as Barbara Fox was fond of saying. I don’t work from a recipe per se, and have been assured that my method is daring. I don’t use “schmaltz” (chicken fat) and cut corners wherever possible, but it’s darn good (IMHO) and good for you. 

Since those who’ve tasted it have asked, I’m attaching the directions, (such as they are) here, but don’t judge! I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Ask the Google: Why is it called Jewish penicillin?

Chicken soup (with or without balls) has been renowned for relieving colds and nourishing pregnant women, and has even been said to cure asthma and leprosy—as the 12th century Jewish philosopher and physician Maimonides claimed in his book “On the Cause of Symptoms.” Hence the well-earned nickname of “Jewish penicillin.”

jewish penicillin, chicken noodle soup, in my humble opinion


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  • barnhllo

    Ahh...Comfort Food; nourishes both body and soul:


    Weather is turning colder;

    It’s time for comfort food.

    Food for the budget-minded,

    But fit for a king!

    Grandma’s ham pot pie,

    Or her New England boiled dinner.

    Mom’s savory pot roast or beef stew,

    Or her just right chili, served with cornbread.

    Dad’s rabbit or venison stew,

    Or his chicken ‘n dream biscuits.

    Hand-me-down recipes like these

    And the memories they evoke are sure to please.

    But it’s having family and friends as dining companions

    That really puts the comfort in Comfort Food!

    Sunday, March 31 Report this