The joy of movement. Words. Food & memory.

Comfort’s Flavor

with 4 comments

When the fever spikes, then falls, you want to celebrate as you do with any team touchdown – a swig.  You see a half-raised eyebrow – nothing like Mom’s, entirely her own, and agree that water is the best option.  You’re avoiding her home-remedy electrolyte concoction at all costs – even if it means putting off sampling your home-brew for a while.


On its way on to wellness, illness takes a detour through irritation.  Only comfort and familiarity will do. Warm in its makeshift womb, your favorite blanket must soothe you, keep you cool.  Pain pills should pull you under far enough to ease you into sleep.   But not so far that the childhood monsters emerge from they’ve been lying in wait, all these years.  Food must be bland enough to swallow and nourish, piquant to the point of interest.

Somewhere between childhood and now, mom’s chicken soup (grandma’s, really) gave way to your girl’s chicken-flavored ramen – doctored up with a pinch of oregano, a heaping teaspoon of  basil, and a half bag of frozen peas and carrots.  For color and flavor, of course.

She won’t tell you that she added in a pinch of white pepper – and you’ll pretend you have no idea she added it in.  Grandma’s was plain, and Mom used whole black peppercorns.  You refused to eat the last version that evidenced heat – all those rivulets of some foreign hot sauce.

You roll a spoonful of this one around your tongue, and it blazes through your sinuses.


It’s that pinch of pepper that reignites your appetite – all of sudden: ravenous.  You want food.

She shrugs, smiling, trading your fare for your favorites: an antipasti plate of garlic-stuffed olives, winter salami, grape tomatoes, slices of extra sharp cheddar – oh, and those terribly dry crackers that you think are perfect.  (She thinks they’re terribly cheap, at odds with a plate that otherwise attempts at elegance).  Dessert used to be applesauce, or yogurt – perfect after soup – but she winks at the rules and gives you gelato.


Top image: Spring Ramen Chicken Soup, by Wendy Cooper.


Written by marginfades

January 9, 2012 at 8:53 am

Posted in Food

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4 Responses

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  1. Yum. Puts me in mind of the precious pounds of homemade-in-India sambar powder I’ve wasted on ramen and Campbell’s. Idea: given the number of poultry and broccoli carcasses we discard each month, I think stock/broth-making is in order for this spring.


    January 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    • Agreed – I’m itching to make stock right about February/March.

      Tell me more about the sambar in soup(s)? Intriguing idea. Also? I crave a from-scratch sambar recipe. I’m so over the powders.


      January 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm

  2. For some reason — I now crave chicken soup. Or mac and cheese. . .


    January 9, 2012 at 10:48 am

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