The Comfort Under the Comfort Food

During a chapter of loss, there is an obvious recipe for which we hunger:  comfort food – for our stomachs and our hearts.  Selecting a comfort food recipe to share is more subjective than I realized.  As best as I can surmise though, comfort food can be divided into a three dishes:

  • a dish of nostalgia
  • a dish of decadence
  • a dish of seasonality

When we reflect beyond our taste buds, we can discover there’s a deeper comfort, or said differently, a comfort under the comfort, within all of the dishes, creating a transforming effect.

With nostalgia, my favorite example comes from the animated movie, Ratatouille.  One of the most profound scenes takes place when Anton Ego, the infamously harsh restaurant critic, slips the first bite into his mouth of something that exceeds anything he could have expected in dining at Gusteau’s premier Parisian restaurant.  The flavors almost blast him back to his true identity and true home where he recalls true comfort, changing his perspective forever about his kitchen and life in general.  Here are two scenes which capture it best: “Remy Cooks Ratatouille” and “Anton Ego’s Speech.”

What are those comfort foods that bring us back to our true identity, belonging, and home?  Tasting Christ as our comfort transforms our hearts, our taste buds, and those taste buds around us. If your mouth is watering after thinking about Ratatouille, here is the recipe from the movie:  Ratatouille Recipe.  Bon Appetit!

With decadence, fatty delicious pleasures come to mind such as heavy cream and cheese.  What better dish to suggest alongside ratatouille than cheesy polenta.  Ask any Northern Italian and they will most certainly include polenta in their short list of comfort foods.  An All-American equivalent might include an ultra-rich version of cheesy macaroni casserole; but if something sweet is the focus, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream might resonate high on the comfort-meter!  While these dishes are decadent indeed, they are only temporarily filling, leaving us woefully unsatisfied.

There is a better comfort food described in the Bible available to us in our loss and brokenness; it is  more substantively decadent than carb-loading…it’s the “fattened calf” from Luke 15.  We all know the story of the son who squanders his inheritance and returns to his father in the face of his enormous loss.  However, the grander story reveals the father’s generosity through the lavish celebration he orders in honor of finding his lost son.  The real comfort food behind the “fattened calf” is the father’s extension of his unmerited forgiveness and love, and restoration to his son.  And it’s available to us through Christ, who suffered deep loss and was broken for us.  To keep with the spirit of the father’s decadence found in the parable, here is a rich and satisfying recipe for cheesy polenta from Ina Garten:  Polenta, although a juicy steak recipe would be fitting as well.

Finally, with seasonality, anything picked straight from the bush, vine, or tree during peak season is perfect comfort food.  Need I say more?  In a time of loss, how deeply comforting it is when we acquaint ourselves with the promise of seasons found in Ecclesiastes 3. A favorite comfort dessert for me during the summer is a ripe, free stone peach which can stand alone. However, it also adorns homemade vanilla ice cream very well!  I would suggest slicing the peaches first and then letting them macerate for an hour or two in a bowl with some sugar and a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice.  Drape the slices over the soft or hard homemade vanilla ice cream and savor. If you need a recipe, try this one from Alton Brown: Vanilla Ice Cream.

What is one of your favorite  comfort foods? Leave your thoughts below and you will be entered into a drawing for a complimentary copy of Laura Wilcox’s Bible study called Capture My Heart, Lord.  I worked through the study with a group of friends and it was rich time in the Word.    ~Lauren Browning


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