This week I wanted to write about comfort food because I just made it through to the other side of a terrible cold; a battle that is the worst to fight when you’re in college. The word ‘comfort food’, defined as foods that provide “consolation or a feeling of well-being” by Comfort Food: A review, does cover a general list of foods that usually comfort people, like ice cream or chicken noodle soup, but it can also be a personal list of foods that make you feel better when you’re down or sick.
Before really thinking about it, the term comfort foods always made me think of pancakes or take out Chinese food or ice cream, anything that is a staple comfort food in an average sitcom, but I think the more personal “comfort foods” are more effective because they hold greater sentimental value and are therefore more comforting because you have greater connections to them. I tried various soups while I was sitting, but nothing around campus came anywhere close to the comfort I get from the pho ga at my local Vietnamese restaurant. Everyone has their own list of foods that define the feeling of home for them. They are the foods that remind you of your childhood or make you feel better when you’re sick. Most people’s lists are compiled of things their parents or grandparents made them frequently while they were growing up, or foods from very specific places around their home town that they would frequent with their friends after school. For me, I don’t have too many homemade snacks on the list, but a big bowl of pho or a concha from the local bakery is all I need to turn a bad day around.
It is admittedly easier for me than most of the people here at school with me, one of the few perks of going to a school in your home town, because I still have access to all of my favorite places with all the foods that make me feel at home while my friends have to settle for local substitutions. When I want a bowl of my favorite pho I can hop in a car and head over to my favorite place in Silverlake, or drive to Echo Park if I want a pastry, and I can satisfy a
craving or a wave of homesickness in 15 minutes.
However, I think there is something to be gained from being so far away from things that make us feel so comfortable. My peers have a chance to truly miss home and all of the foods and places that make them feel so comfortable and familiar. It is an extra special moment for them to go home and reacquaint themselves with all the things they missed. For me, I never get to really miss anything because it is way too accessible. Foods that remind me of home are not as special as I want them to be. They are comforting, but too familiar.