“Comfort food” is an American term to define “food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone” as well as “the feeling of belonging”, among other descriptors. The concept of comfort food (in its modern meaning) isn’t a very old one; it is thought to have started in the late 1960s. I personally heard it for the first time soon after I moved to the US; sometime in 2009, we were having an open discussion about the menu items that we were promoting at the hotel’s restaurant (much less fancy than the menu at the hotel celebrity chef’s restaurant next door) at the SLS in Beverly Hills, CA. I remember a conversation between the General Manager of the hotel back then, chef José Andrés, and some other members of the culinary team (me included). After some back and forth, the GM told chef: “perhaps the dishes should embrace some more comfort food” or something along those lines. I thought to myself: “comfort food? Did he just make that one up?”. Although I must admit that the adjective used to describe this particular cuisine is pretty self-explanatory and easy to picture, I pondered: “what exactly does he mean? Something less sophisticated, or simpler?”.
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It’s that time of year again, when the cold starts to break and warmer weather gradually begins to grace us with its presence.As the seasons change, we often seek out and welcome food and drink that reflects our surroundings.When things start to heat up, our desire for beverages that quench our thirst and cool us off grows exponentially with the increase in temperature.In a world filled with slushies and punches, there is one classic cocktail that has been helping us usher in Spring and Summer for centuries: Sangria
<strong>Tiempo de lectura:</strong> 6 Minutos<strong>Autor:</strong> Steven Dragun<strong>Fecha:</strong> 03/24/2023<strong>Categoría:</strong> Cócteles
But, what defines ‘sophistication’ in cooking? Because if you ask some expert in the field like Ferran Adrià, he’ll say something like, for example, that to master egg cooking in any form (fried, omelet, boiled…) may require a substantial amount of skillful technique. Another website that I found during this research states: “We want our homespun favorites just the way mom, dad, or grandma used to make them…” …grandma rushing through her cooking? Nah, I don’t buy it, although I do get it. If you feel the need to urgently reach out for some foods to ‘treat’ [to actually comfort] yourself when you experience some unfavorable psychological conditions such as stress, anxiety, or depression (please read this incredible story about Emily Nunn’s mental recovery using foods), the last thing you want to do is to complicate it too much (thus, something less elaborate). But be aware that crafting a textbook sunny-side-up (if that is what you’re dying for) will still demand some effort. Some cheery cook would’ve had to patiently put together that casserole before you run to the fridge for a quick microwave-heated plate, no? The last time I made some French-sherry-splash-included-onion-soup it took me about two and a half hours! Or just think about the rabo de toro recipe we shared with you some time ago. 3 ½ hours to get a delicious culinary masterpiece, but worth the time invested.
After some groundwork, I have come to the conclusion that comfort food can’t be a limited, inflexible expression. To some people, the idea relates to big, hearty dishes, to others, straightforward snacking. Some think of savory tastes, some really crave candy. Moreover, based on the country and/or culture of origin, the list of ingredients and/or dishes broadens to a worldwide palate.
And what time of the day is comfort food mostly eaten? Back to my memory at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles, I believe we were discussing either the hotel’s breakfast or brunch offerings, but I understand the discussion could actually have been about any meal of the day or menu.
Interestingly, according to everipedia.org: “One study divided college-students’ comfort-food identifications into four categories (nostalgic foods, indulgence foods, convenience foods, and physical comfort foods) with a special emphasis on the deliberate selection of particular foods to modify mood or effect, and indications that the medical-therapeutic use of particular foods may ultimately be a matter of mood-alteration.”
THE BEST WINE TO GO WITH YOUR FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD
So, today, we are going to elaborate on these sub-divisions mentioned above, and suggest some sherry wines to accompany them:
For this, we are going to pick a dish that reminds us of “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” Childhood memories? Sounds good, what about pancakes? Great! For the pancakes themselves, we picked this easy-to-make recipe. Now, did you (or mom) use to drizzle on some syrup as well? A glass of Lustau PX San Emilio will undoubtedly echo that old luscious flavor. For those of you less purist, try cooking down the wine into a perfect caramel-like sauce to pour over your pancakes!
Well, more on pleasure… but let’s get real sophisticated this time, it’s been a while. We all know the pandemic affected our daily lives and many customs, eating out being a huge one. Many chefs around the world rapidly adjusted, accelerating resources for food delivery. Look at this impressive (dated November 2020) list of Michelin-star restaurants offering expanded-menu-item programs. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll find US-based giant Daniel Boulud! We checked his web and ran into this smoked salmon kit! Pure luxury. We will need a wine to match, Lustau Almacenista Manzanilla Pasada will knock your socks off.
Easy, no complications, no hassle, no expensive or fancy selections. You readily went grocery shopping, stocked up your refrigerator, and the ballgame is kicking off in a few minutes, what can I do? Relax, set your oven to 350F, open the freezer door, and grab that Trader Joe’s Pesto Pizza (“made with organic flour and vegetables”) that you save for special occasions, and makes you smile every time. And what are we drinking with it? Oh, I believe I keep a bottle of Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos in the wine fridge! Yeah, that’s gonna be the first home run of the evening.
PHYSICAL COMFORT FOODS
Finally, it is time to focus on staying healthy again; too many sugars, carbs, and dodgy fast-food choices to help cope with our downturn moments recently? We are going to eat well, and we are going to take the time to prepare it. We have some close friends coming for dinner and we want to feed them nutritious ingredients cooked with love. How about a Black Bean Turkey Chili made from scratch with our locally-sourced ingredients? Let’s impress them! We will need some wine too, hmmm… simmered turkey with black beans, green peppers, onions, and a touch of heat? Lustau Oloroso Don Nuño is my winner for this dish. Serve slightly chilled.
In summary, comfort food involves a large variety of options, and it is deeply rooted in everyone’s psychological background, normally associated with a certain cultural/culinary environment (country?), and familiar, intimate relations. Comfort food does not necessarily have to be a lazy choice, an unhealthy measure, or even a simple resource just for the unhappy moments. It’s all about taking care. And we do love grandmas, even those that rush their cooking!