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Warm comfort in food

Roast Chicken and potatoes with za’atar/Image: PV bella

In times like these, eating is our only comfort. The COVID-19 pandemic is stubbornly hanging on. The regular flu season is upon us, with predictions it will be brutal. There is daily murder, mayhem, bloodshed, robberies, carjackings, and other felony crimes. City Hall is failing us. Chicago is lost.

There are national crises. COVID is out of control in freedumb loving areas, including southern Illinois. People are refusing to get vaccinated, and there are battles over vaccine mandates. Death cult “Christian” religions are issuing religious exemptions for those who “sincerely believe” vaccines are evil. Anyone can apply.

Both houses of Congress are irreparably broken. Nothing is getting done. The southern border is in crisis, and the government is paralyzed to do anything about it. There is no political will to resolve the immigration, asylum seekers, and refugee crises. The climate crisis is now being labeled the climate catastrophe.

Chicago faces a mounting homeless crisis, with almost 20,000 people living on the streets, some in makeshift encampments like refugees from third-world countries. Winter will soon be upon us, and they will suffer.

Many of us are still semi-confined to our homes or restricting our movements, fearing contracting COVID. We worry about our families and friends, adding more stress to our lives. All of us know people who were affected by COVID-19.

It appears nothing is going right, and little is being done to rectify things. Everything is a battle, and every battle is being lost. We are learning to accept failure as an option at all levels. We kept looking for normal or the new normal, and it appears failure is the new normal.

There is little good news and plenty of bad. There is nothing to celebrate. 

Food is all we have to comfort us, especially since the cooler to cold weather sets it. For some reason, food makes us happy in times of stress. Food is sensual, satisfying all six senses. We enjoy eating our favorite comfort foods.

I love soup, especially during the fall and winter months. I could literally live on soup and good bread alone. I started thinking about all the foods that bring me joy and comfort. There are stews of all kinds, chili, roast chicken with plain salt and pepper, or some za’atar added. Good cream of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich melts the coldest hearts.

I like to patronize great soup restaurants for flavorful bowls of pho, Caldo de Pollo, or tortilla soup. There are the birrierias, serving goat stews and consommé. I like bigos, the Polish hunter’s stew, and goulash. Good French onion soup is another favorite. I am an offal guy and occasionally will eat a steaming bowl of Menudo. Posole is another great soup/stew. Chinese hot and sour soup with extra garlic, ginger, and chilis will cure just about any malaise.

There is a reason we call certain dishes are called comfort foods. They comfort us and satisfy our souls. They calm and relax us. They make us appreciate the simple things of life. They evoke food memories from our childhood.

When all else fails, and our world is going to Hell in a handbasket, comfort foods bring solace and make us forget how miserable this world is. We dig in, and for a short time, we are happy.

Life is too short to fret over all the failures in this nation and Chicago. Eating well is the best revenge. So, pull out those Insta Pots, slow cookers, or Dutch ovens. Make soup, stew, chili, or roast a chicken. A mice warm apple or other fruit pie with ice cream is a great dessert if you can bake.

Life sucks right now. You may as get what little joy you can.

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