The Quietude of Comfort Food

Nowadays, cities feature the finest restaurants, happening pubs, and fancy bistros. Food is just not a necessity anymore. Flaunting your food in fancy eateries is a signature lifestyle of the Gen-Z. With the current information overload in the form of reels, reviews, and blogs – ‘food’ has turned ‘fashionable’. Fusion food is a rage. Food photography is a modern-day art. Flaunting your food is a social media ritual!

Amidst all this paranoia, excesses, and exhibitionism, there are days when you ache for a particular kind of food. Something so rare even the myriad options on Zomato or Swiggy can’t suffice. Yet something so basic that you doubt, why at all, your ‘refined and elevated tastes’ of caviar and champagne are craving for something so simple! These are the days you are longing for your comfort food. Comfort Foods are simple, basic, childhood staples, that you subconsciously take for granted but never acknowledge. Comfort Foods connects you to your former self. A bite of it transports you to the nostalgic world of memories and more.

On a lazy afternoon, I had an intense urge to have my comfort food – Aloo Poshto (a vegetarian recipe made with potatoes and poppy seeds, in mustard oil). This recipe is so common in Bengali households that it never requires a mention, yet universally features. The moment I tasted the first bite of Aloo Poshto along with steaming rice, I got transported to this old-world charm of cassettes and comics, of rainy-day holidays and khichdi, of Maa’s soft embrace and sunbathed winters. Comfort foods are never about cooking skills, spices, or techniques. They are always about emotions, nostalgia, and magic.

Comfort Foods works like time machines. That entire afternoon I sat on my balcony, staring at the gardens, reminiscing those innocent winter days of sunbathing with Maa on the terrace, eating oranges while scrolling through the pages of my favourite comic book – Tintin. Comfort Foods soothe the soul like a lullaby and help you heal.

Comfort foods are culture-specific and come with heavy emotional baggage. It is not possible to objectively gauge why and how a particular food item becomes someone’s comfort food. It is also, rather insolent to comment on someone’s food preferences without proper perspectives. This reminds me of the ‘Idligate’ incident on Twitter (now X) when a British Professor remarked that idlis are ‘the most boring thing in the world’. This comment drew the flak of the food fanatics around the world. Shashi Tharoor – the Indian Diplomat, Politician and word wizard, quickly retorted – “Yes, my son, there are some who are truly challenged in this world. Civilisation is hard to acquire: the taste & refinement to appreciate idlis, enjoy cricket, or watch ottamthullal is not given to every mortal. Take pity on this poor man, for he may never know what Life can be.”

Owing to my pluralistic-cultural association I have noticed how comfort foods vary across cultures. Their tastes, ingredients, and flavours are very different. But what’s common in all of them is the collective feeling of nostalgia and magic. On asking my friends about their comfort foods I got varied answers. A Vada Pao is a reminder of school days, while besan chilla takes back to rural life, a sabudana khichdi is like a mother’s embrace, and Pao Bhaji is the weekly family delicacy.

Comfort Food is less about the ingredients, the health benefits, or the presentation. They are always easy to available, easy to make and an intrinsic part of the community as a whole. So, next time when you hear about someone’s comfort foods, also listen to the heartwarming anecdotes associated with it. Because food is not fashion. Food is always about emotions.

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About the Author

Gargi Ghosh Das

I believe that words are the most powerful medium of expression that can reach the bottomless pit of our minds, thoughts and emotions. And in doing so, we can create a sisterhood of shared dreams read more...

10 Posts | 2,656 Views

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