Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Comfort

It's been a tough week here at Seasonal Cook. A very good friend is very, very sick, and I've spent the last week just waiting on news. I just called the hospital, and her condition has improved somewhat, so I'm feeling a bit more hopeful about things.

Not surprisingly, I haven't really been thinking about food or blogging, but I did cook this weekend. I made bread pudding, ragu, clam chowder. All comfort food - and not just for the eater. Anyone who cooks, who is at heart a cook, no matter the skill level, takes comfort from preparing food. Certain foods are better for this than others. You don't want something too fussy - no spun caramel or architectural creations - but you don't want anything too easy either, like a steak that's seared and done in minutes. You need something to, for lack of a better word, nurture, to lay care on. A cook needs a ragu that simmers on lowest for a few hours, fed with a tablespoon of milk every once in a while. A cook needs a soup that has to be occasionally stirred and tasted, salt added, the heat adjusted. A cook needs to cut the bread for pudding, let it dry on low in the oven, let it sit in the fridge and slowly absorb the custard, and then bake the whole thing gently, gently in a bath of water.

Sometimes we feed the ones we love. Sometimes we can't, and the food is only a substitute for the person we would like to be able to offer that tenderness and care. But, if we are cooks, we will always be found, whether in joy or in worry or in love, in the kitchen.

4 comments:

Urban Agrarian said...

I hope you get some good news about your friend.

Joe Greene said...

Wonderful post - Thank you.

Helen said...

Hey there Pyewacket!

Sorry to hear your friend is so sick. How is he/she doing now? I know what you mean about comfort foods -- not too fancy, but not too simple either :) I never realized why I reach for those dishes when life is tough, but you put it so eloquently as always.

By the way, how are you doing with school. You might have mentioned it, but I don't recall, what are you studying?

Cheers,
-Helen

lindy said...

Hope things are continuing to improve for your friend. I agree about the comforts of cooking, and the sorts of things which are comforting to cook. There is something about stirring, braising , watching over something on a low simmer. It is really quite a handy thing that the products of cooking can also serve to comfort other people.

Gardening has a similar effect, and I do miss my garden of yore, now that I'm an apartment dweller.