Friday, July 9, 2010

the comforts of food.

When I lived in Sacramento, anytime I wasn't feeling well, Mom would make chicken broth from scratch and pour it into an old, oversized Campbell's Soup mug. It didn't matter what time of the day or what the weather was like; I felt instantly better. When it comes to "comfort food," I suppose you could say that's the closest thing I've had.

Simply Recipes calls chicken and dumplings "the ultimate comfort food." A survey by About.com says that PB&J or grilled cheese sandwiches are the top comfort foods of choice. A lot of people I know define macaroni and cheese as their comfort food of choice. From what I can gather, it seems like the concept of "comfort food" is distinctly American.

A Google search for "Chinese comfort food" to see what I could unearth shot me down memory lane. Porridge, winter melon soup, pork soup over a plain bowl of rice...The funny thing about Chinese food is that it all seems to be "comfort food." Whether I had a fever or a cold, porridge via the rice cooker paired with a plate of saltine crackers was choice. Among the many vegetables Grandma grew in her backyard, winter melon was one of my favorites and never failed to satisfy the taste buds. And soup over plain rice has the memories of Na and I pretending like it was cereal and milk attached to it. And I don't even like putting milk in my cereal.

But despite my memories about food and my love of eating, all I've eaten today was a salad and a couple of snickerdoodles. Yet when I looked at the mirror today, I felt perfectly fine. Good, even. That's a bit frightening, I think. Food is so essential to one's identity, more so than we realize from day to day because we, in our first-world country, take it for granted. By not eating, am I not taking it for granted as well and embodying what I loathed about people after spending so much time at Loaves & Fishes? "Starving college student" isn't enough of an identity for me. My cultural connection to food has been fading since I moved. Is this connected to my own act of fading away?

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