Like many women, I will undoubtedly see Eat Pray Love and will revel in its message about being the master of your own destiny and seeking fulfillment and creating your own happiness. But, at the same time, I can't help but feel a tiny bit jealous that I don't get to go to Rome to gorge myself on pizza, pasta, and gelato when life gives me proverbial lemons. Instead, I am stuck here ... and it's highly unlikely anyone will ever make a movie about it.
But, if I was to make lemonade out of this for a moment, I'd note there are plenty of comfort foods in my own backyard, making a passport (which actually just expired) and an international flight wholly unnecessary.
So here are my Top 10 American Comfort Foods for anyone going through a hard time to feast upon while dreaming of travel someday ...
10. Macaroni and Cheese: Casseroles are the first thing that come to mind when I think "comfort food," but, while perhaps proving I'm a hypocrite as I'm starting out with pasta, I think mac and cheese beats out something like tuna casserole when you're looking to feed your feelings. I was never big on the Kraft Cheese and Macaroni variety -- I'm talking about the kind you'd see in Saveur. One with several kinds of cheese that's totally dense and oozes love.
9. Potato Chips: Simple and easy -- all you have to do is buy a bag. And they totally fulfill a salty craving. (One of the things I loved about Hershey's Take Five candy bar was that it had both sweet *and* salty components -- the perfect food?)
8. Chicken Noodle Soup: The number one cure-all when you're sick. It has magic powers. (My mom used to serve it with toast cut into thin vertical strips.)
7. Grilled Cheese: Such an easy thing to make -- it can even be done in a dorm room with an iron! -- but it can also be dressed up with bacon or veggies to cater to a more mature palate.
6. Mashed Potatoes: Sometimes just a holiday side dish, but really one of the stars of the show. Again, it's nothing but starch, but also butter and salt and sometimes garlic. It fills up that pit in your stomach and it's enough to almost make you forget about the turkey, not to mention your woes.
5. Fried Chicken: Not a huge staple in my childhood, it's still one that hits the spot every now and again. And that's the thing -- it conjures up images of picnics and family and good things that can undoubtedly make you happy no matter how rotten your mood.
4. Chocolate Chip Cookies: They're basic but, spun another way, classic. They're super-easy to make ... and never taste quite as good as they do right out of the oven. What's more, the act of baking itself is often therapeutic.
3. Chocolate: Like the potato chip of the sweet world, it is deceptively simple. And I don't care what anyone else says -- as far as I'm concerned, it has healing powers. (Which makes me sound like that Cathy cartoon.)
2. Apple Pie: As American as ... right? There's no doubt about it -- no food quite symbolizes home and Americana and good old-fashioned values quite like apple pie. And if things in life feel uncertain, that may be precisely what you need.
1. Ice Cream: Would romantic comedy screenwriters be able to come up with jokes without Ben & Jerry? I think it's dubious, but with so many imaginative flavors (oh, Phish food, Iove you), it's easier to forgive them. (Besides, I suppose I can begrudgingly admit there's perhaps a little truth to it.)
What's your favorite comfort food?
Image via muohace_dc/Flickr