The January Blues
Let’s face it, January is crap: ‘post-Christmas blues’, cold and wet weather, lack of money after the December splurge – the list could go on. Despite all of the above, there is nothing more comforting than going on a long walk in the country and then coming home to a big stew with dumplings*, or some other type of winter warmer.
I recently watched a BBC drama based on Nigel Slater’s memoirs. It was called “Toast” because this was Slater’s comfort food when growing up. The programme showed his mother’s inability to cook and when the evening meal went wrong, they had toast for dinner. However, a young Nigel said ‘you can’t hate someone that makes you toast, all crunchy on the outside but all soft and fluffy in the middle’. This got me thinking about what my comfort food is and I realised that I have many a mood and many a food to accompany that mood.
The ‘Winter Warmer’ mood
In the winter I love having cheese on toast (crumpets are a very close second) with loads of butter and a splash of Lea and Perrins or, even better, Henderson’s Relish (Sheffield’s version of Worcester sauce, so popular that Jarvis Cocker orders it by the gallon!) It’s even better when someone has made it for me. I remember when I was younger, probably about 8 or 9, and we had just moved into our current house and my dad made me and my sister cheese on toast. He used 2 different types of cheese and put our initials on each slice an ‘H’ for me, and an ‘O’ for my sister. I would say I enjoy this snack most in the early evening at about 6.30/7pm after the lunchtime Sunday roast.
The ‘Give me vitamin C’ Mood
When I was at University and feeling as though I had a cold coming I would make my Polish grandmother’s (commonly known as Babcia) stewed carrots. This is basically coarsely grated carrots softened in butter with some ground black pepper, and then left to cook in some chicken stock until the stock is almost fully absorbed by the carrots; the carrots should still be noticeably grated rather than appearing as though they have dissolved. This is the bee’s knees…completely delicious. I always used to make enough for 2 portions so it could go with a main meal but I usually just ended up eating both portions straight out of the saucepan (well you’ve got to save on washing up) in front of the telly with a blanket on my lap…cue ‘Hannah is a granny’ joke.
The ‘Bridget Jones’ Mood
I love ice cream and I find it satisfies many a mood. One of the best places to get a holiday ice cream is Cornwall, but make sure you have yours with a dollop of Rodda’s clotted cream and a stick of fudge. Lush. Even better than Cornish ice cream is the dime bar crunch flavour from G & D’s ice cream co. in Oxford. Ice cream purchased from here is best enjoyed sat in Christ Church meadows on a sunny Oxford afternoon.
Ice cream is also something I crave when I am feeling a bit sorry for myself. Usually enjoyed straight out of the tub (there is something unbelievably satisfying about eating it this way). It doesn’t really matter what flavour but I do like: ‘Raspberry Ripple’, Haagen Daz ‘Cookies and Cream’, or Ben and Jerry’s ‘Cookie Dough’.
The ‘Saturday night in’ mood
Many a Saturday night in with the girlf/boyf (take note) is made a bit more special with the right food. I would suggest: some crisps and dips to start; then a homemade curry (or Chinese, fajitas or the like) followed by a delicious homemade pudding (profiteroles, Tiramisu or even ice cream) and washed down with a cold lager or a lovely glass of sauvignon blanc. After all that face stuffing and eating it’s time to tune into the relaxation station and hit the sofa for a chill out and a good film.
This list could go on and on and on and those that know me know that I really would go on and on and on but I’ll stop here for now. I won’t finish this with a naff sentence that will probably make a psychologist or dietician approach me and ask me about my feelings towards food and if I comfort eat on a regular basis (which I don’t by the way). Different foods suit different moods, some foods might even get you ‘in the mood’. But whatever your mood, enjoy!
*links are tried and tested recipes