Comfort food. Just the thought of it reminds me of something warm and welcoming- like snuggling up by the fire on a crisp fall day. What is comfort food? It is usually the food we have good memories about and that reminds us of a simpler time. Whether you grow up in China or little old North Carolina there is always a meal that conjures up feelings of joy and safety, memories of childhood, or just simple pleasure.
For me, my comfort food is spaghetti and meatballs. I have always had a strong desire for anything Italian but my mind always seems to wander back to good old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. I love this dish because it takes me back to my roots- the food that I grew up with and always had a soft spot for. It reminds me of spending holidays up in Minnesota with my huge family crammed around a wooden table and everything knocking elbows to try and get to the dish first.
Seeing my grandmother hunched over a steaming pot of boiling water mixing the noodles and then looking over and seeing my cousin try and sneak a spoonful of marinara sauce brings me back to happier and more relaxed times. Being a senior in high school, I am busier and more stressed than I have ever been in my life. For me to feel warm and safe again I think about this delicious dish and my problems literally just disappear. When I begin to eat the spaghetti my eyes, hands, and mouth seem to start a chain of command in my brain. The sugar and starch spur serotonin, and from then on out I seem to be walking on sunshine.
Whenever I seem to be having a bad week or I just cannot seem to find something good to focus on, I can always rely on my mom to make me a huge pot of spaghetti and meatballs and I know that those supposed “problems” I thought I had did not really matter at all. This comfort food is also the friend who never disappoints me or ditches me. Certain psychologists call comfort food a “social surrogate”- in other words, it does not quite replace real companions but it reminds us of them.
Growing up in the world today is a very hard thing to do and it seems that some days nobody likes you. Food is a language that has no barrier. When I have these days, just imagining a warm, steaming pot of spaghetti and meatballs would help me get through the day and remind me that I am the one who controls my life, not other people. You learn in science class that food is essential to life. Without food to nourish our bodies we would be unable to function properly or thrive in our everyday lives and I for one never argue with science.