Posted by: Kate | July 16, 2008

Comfort Food

For the past, oh, four hundred years, give or take, I’ve had a subscription to World of Puzzles magazine.  I know, my geek is showing, but every time I think that I’m allowing too many back issues to stack up unused, I hit a spot of insomnia for which the only cure – and a surefire one at that – is to attempt a three-star puzzle while lying in bed.  Instant coma.

In each issue, there’s a section with some sort of theme – a common topic, or a specific type of puzzle.  Having subscribed to this magazine since before the incorporation of America, I’ve become rather set in my ways when I decide to flip open an issue: I gravitate toward certain types of puzzles, and very rarely can be bothered to try anything that would actually require me to read a new set of directions.  But in one issue, several years ago, the theme had to do with how conventionally you thought; sort of like a single-player version of Family Feud.  (Don’t even get me started on my former addiction to game shows; between the Game Show Network and Bill Kurtis-narrated shows, I could conceivably not leave the couch for a month, were it not for vague annoyances like work and personal hygiene.  I’ve cut way down, but as with any addiction, all it takes is one bad day…)

Anyway, I can’t remember all of the conventionality-related puzzles, but the one that stayed with me was in a simple list format.  There was a heading for each, like “’80s sitcoms” or “Cars,” and you were to write down the top however-many that came to mind.  The challenge was to try to think like everybody else (which is vaguely ironic, in a magazine full of plays on words and twists of logic).  In most of the lists, I was able to come up with a reasonably common set of answers.

But there was one list that completely stumped me.

“Comfort Foods.”

The thing that really got to me was, I didn’t realize it had stumped me at the time.  I happily scribbled in my answers, flipped to the back, and gawped.  I had to double-check to make sure that I wasn’t checking the wrong set of answers.  Because, as it turns out?  My version of comfort foods is, apparently, unconventional.

Things like brownies, cold pizza, mashed turnips, baby dill pickles, tuna noodle casserole.  Anything Italian.  Fresh fruit.  Not all at once, mind you.  And not necessarily often.  But those are the sorts of foods I gravitate toward when home alone, or in emotional upheaval, or when lacking chocolate in sufficient quantities.

I can’t remember what a statistically more normal list would look like, though I do remember that I could heave a small sigh of relief that two of mine – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (though I prefer mine on toast or, in an ideal world, a toasted English muffin with butter, too) and ice cream – did appear on the normal-person list.  I know that I don’t love soup, particularly chicken noodle, and of the other answers I remember thinking that they were foods I liked well enough, but I didn’t derive comfort from them.

So, then, what are yours?  Are you normaller than me, or do you crave mayonnaise-and-pickle sandwiches or sliced tomatoes with salt sprinkled on top (Hi, Mom!)?  Inquiring – and unconventional – minds want to know.


  1. pickles with ketchup, macaroni and cheese with chopped meat and ketchup (sensing a theme yet?), cookie dough sans chocolate chips (they interfere with the squishy…), vanilla frosting straight out of the can, preferably cold, chicken noodle casserole.

  2. Steak – rare, bleeding and twitching. Matter of fact, I stopped at a steakhouse on my way to my oral licensing exam Saturday.

    Red wine, although I didn’t have any of that Saturday, figuring that showing up with alcohol on my breath might skew the results.

    Tuna melt – oil-packed tuna mixed with about a Tablespoon of real mayo (none of that “salad dressing” crap), salt & freshly cracked black pepper, slathered atop lightly toasted wheat bread then covered in cheese and broiled in the toaster oven ’til the cheese is lightly browned

    DrPepper ice cream float with chocolate ice cream.

    Saltine crackers with marshmallow fluff spread on the non-salted side & inserted in the mouth salt-side down


    Fried chicken -legs & thighs only, please.

    I could go on & on after the last 10 years in school, haha, but these are some of my faves.

  3. Hey I’m a salt and pepper on freshly cut tomato kind of comfort food girl! And nothing cures the blues quite so well as a mango eaten whole (with the skin peeled off by hand)…in the bath.

    I’m also partial to old fashioned english style puddings – rice pudding, queen pudding, steamed sago plum pudding, golden syrup dumplings……

    Or a big old slab of deep fried camembert with quince paste.

  4. For me it’s a McDonald’s Big Mac and a truckload of french fries.

    Just about any bread.

    Matzoh and tuna fish.

    Devil Dogs.

    White cake with chocolate frosting.

    Gee, wonder why I’m not svelte.

  5. Cauliflower au Gratin (although we called it Cauliflower cheese), Kraft Cheese spread on WHITE bread (I know, awful, I was never allowed it as a child), Vegemite on toast of course (Aussie staple), ham cheese and tomato toasted sandwiches, bread and butter cucumbers (like your dill pickles only sweeter), corn relish and grated cheese sandwiches, Hans American hot dogs with dijon mustard on those soft buns . . and mashed carrot and parsnips. . . .cold pizza . .yuk! (although I have done it under stress, late at night, after a few chardys) . . .ooh and Arnott’s Mint Slice when I’m feeling poorly

  6. A bagel with cream cheese

    Salt & vinegar potato chips

    Regular Coke (which I NEVER drink anymore!)

    And wine. Always wine.

  7. A food question! I love food questions! 🙂

    White bread,
    Toast with vegemite and tomato,
    Steak with mushroom sauce,
    Greek salad,
    Chocolate peanuts,
    Fruit salad with vanilla yoghurt and cinnamon,
    Roast lamb with red-wine gravy,
    Thai chicken soup (Tom Ka)
    Thai Green chicken curry with white rice,
    Cheese on toast, (anything with melted cheese really)
    The first coffee of the day.

    There are too many to write down and now I’m hungry……. 🙂

  8. A food question! I love food questions!

    White bread thickly slathered in butter,
    Toast with Vegemite and tomato,
    Steak with mushroom sauce,
    Thai chicken soup, (Tom Ka)
    Thai green chicken curry with white rice,
    Anything with melted cheese,
    Chocolate peanuts,
    Salted popcorn,
    Fruit salad with vanilla yoghurt and cinnamon,
    The first coffee of the day.

    There are more, too many to write down and I’m hungry now.. 🙂

  9. How fun!

    Graham crackers dunked in milk. A sure sign I’m fighting the blues.

    Tomato sandwich on toast with mayo, S&P (summer only). Pleasure, comfort.

    Tapioca pudding.

    12 noon. I KNEW it must be time to eat! (Is it ever not? 🙂

  10. I crave pickles and cheese, chips and dip, ice cream, cheesecake, chocolate, peanuts, mashed potatoes and gravy, cream soups, pizza, spaghetti and meatsauce, and all salty type foods. If I eat a tomato whole, leaning over the sink, I salt every bite, if I slice my tomato and pile on sugar on every slice. I love salt on my watermelon which is what I am eating right now.

  11. doritos, ice cream, pizza, mashed potatoes & peas (mixed together), potato chips and Bison chip dip

  12. I think my list is unconventional, too:
    Bread, particularly thick slices of a rough, crusty bread, still warm from the oven, and slathered with sweet butter if I can get it. Or brushed with olive oil and broiled.
    Tea. A good cup of tea could save my soul most days.
    Homemade buttercreme frosting (preferrably chocolate) on salty pretzels.
    Popcorn…either air popped or popped in a pot on the stove with oil, lightly buttered and salted. Never microwaved, ever.
    Cinnamon sugar toast makes me feel cozy and loved.
    Last but not least is this oatmeal fudge brownie thing that my stepdad makes…we called them gooey gobbies when I was little and they are out of this world good, such that you cannot help smiling when you bite into one.

  13. i like cheese. but my favorite is probably any type of raisin bread (bagel, english muffin, bread) toasted with butter and then add cheddar cheese. funny thing is i don’t like raisins by themselves just in breads.

  14. Oh no! I lost the first comment I thought, so I did it again but it’s back! Sorry Kate.

  15. I love food way too much but it was actually a bit hard to come up with a list of my comfort foods.
    I love starches the most of any food group, potatoes in any form, mashed, baked with toppings, fried or scalloped. I also love any kind of bread there are so many types of bread, sweet breads , hearty homemade bread, croissants, baguettes, bagels and rolls. Bread would be the food I would pick if someone told me I could choose one food to bring to a deserted island. I also love any pasta dish, most of all those with a heavy bad for you cream sauce. My other downfall are sweets I have to have at least one treat a day. Completely unrelated but I wanted to thank you for responding to my last comment(it was a while ago), it was really nice and best of all it gave me a little hope.

  16. Totinos pizzas
    Chocolate of any kind
    Peanut butter and chocolate ice cream
    BBQ potato chips
    mashed potatos

  17. Bisquick biscuits
    pancakes with butter (no syrup)
    grits with loads of butter
    boiled peanuts
    fried bone-in pork chops
    round steak, fried, with a cream of mushroom soup/lipton onion soup mix sauce
    fried chicken
    chicken and dumplins (thick noodle style, not puffy dumplins) (and yes, you must say it “dumplin’ s”. no “ings”.)
    Kraft Mac n Cheese Deluxe
    french fries of any type, from anywhere
    Diet Coke
    bagel and cream cheese
    toasted English muffin with butter

    Wow. I have a really horrible, and quite southern, diet.

  18. Mashed Turnips? Hmm.
    Mine? Pizza. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Cereal.

  19. Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries
    Cookie Dough (homemade is the best _ I always pull my reserve and stash it in the freezer FIRST)
    Rice Cakes (Chocolate of Apple Cinnamon) slathered in Cream Cheese
    Beef Jeky
    Cheetos Puffs (never crunchy)
    Sonic’s Cherry Lime-Ade
    Chocolate coered Cherry milkshake
    Chicken Pallard
    And chicken Dumplins – just like Beverly, tha is a Christmas Eve staple in our family

  20. […] Kate at One More Thing wrote a post asking about our own particular (and perhaps peculiar) comfort foods, then wrote another asking us about other foods that we have peccadilloes […]

  21. Mmmm … I’m getting hungry now!

    My faves are:
    – any kind of soup (harder now that we’re veg. … most stuff has beef or chicken broths in it)
    – mac and cheese
    – anything fried (I live in the South, remember? We’ll fry anything.)
    – tuna noodle casserole
    – creamed tuna on toast
    – chicken broccoli casserole (with veg. chicken) and Ritz crackers sprinkled on the top

    Your “hi mom” item reminded me of my mom’s favorite comfort food — a Ritz cracker with mayo spread on top, topped with a slice of homegrown tomato, and salted. It’s not as gross as it sounds …

  22. Oh, totally forgot about cookie dough and cake batter!!! 😉

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