Eat Hello Pip-Life

:: Comfort Food. Ten Percent Delicious.

April 7, 2015

snack n snadwich bun and tea


I was reading this article on Monday. It was all about comfort food. As I sat in the comfort of my lounge room, sipping a large cup of (comforting) tea and absently smoothing the discarded foil wrap of my (comforting) Easter egg, I got to thinking about what comfort food means to me. The article said that comfort food was more about attachments or connections than calories, that we are comforted by the links various foods have to people and places, rather than simply the taste or carb-laden #faileo ranking. I’m inclined to agree.

For me, comfort food is ninety percent about people and places gone-by. And ten percent about delicious.

Jaffles (or toasties as some people call them) for instance, are a reminder of days at the shack when I was little. Sitting in the little booth dining area, trying not to scorch my chin on the hot spaghetti that was seeping out the edges. Grinning with slightly charcoaled teeth thanks to the delicious-yet-slightly burnt crust.

Cheese on toast (or our family recipe ‘cheese spread’) is all about the other shack (our family had two, side-by-side), watching Sesame Street in front of the fire, looking out over the bay to Bruny Island or Snug’s little boathouses, tucked into the distance like gappy teeth,

Macaroni Cheese with Tomato or Corn Chowder are reminders of the years we spent in Canberra, before I moved to Melbourne. My brother and sister and I were growing up – teenagers – forming a little sibling gang and working stuff out. There was always sewing being cleared away from the dining table, the wood burning stove was blasting and the football was probably droning on the TV.

Laksa is all about going to Ong Food Court with Rin when she was little – and Mee Goreng from the Penang Coffee House around the same time. We ate a lot of Malaysian food and it still tastes to me like those early days of mothering, when everything was new and intense and overwhelming and joy packed.

Promite on toasted herb bread (from Potts Bakery, back in the day) is a hard to replicated one. That’s from the cosy time when Rin was a baby too. It Was the first time I’d ever had Promite and the first time I’d ever had sourdough with herbs baked into it. We ate A LOT of it in my mother-in-law Dure’s kitchen, toasting slice after slice, trying to find the line between being appreciative and being greedy.

Later, there was Promite on crumpets. That was all about when Cam and I first met and fell in love. He would make me breakfast in bed and even though Promite on crumpets doesn’t sound like much, it was really delicious and I still love it now. It takes me straight back to a tray on foot of the bed, tea in pretty cups. Same for Bubble and Squeak made from the night before’s roast. It has to have lots of salt and crispy bits (and not too many brussel sprouts, because I don’t like them). The longer we are together, the more brussel sprouts seem to find their way in…. Sheesh.

Later still, there was Richmond Hill Café And Larder’s Cheesy Toast. Some days, when we had our shop in Richmond, Cam and I would go there for breakfast before we opened, after the kids had gone to school, and I’d have that delicious cheesy toast. It was rich and melty and super delicious. Sometimes I had it with the pickle and sometimes with the tomato, but I always felt special and spoilt (and slightly removed from the stress of the shop).  I still get cravings for the meltly, special, spoiltness, even now.

There are other things too : Aloo gobi, potato curry on toast, honeyed eggplant on toast, Kouigan Amann from Regal De France, fresh-baked bread or scones with jam and cream, curry and roti, tomato and cheese crackers, lamb and aioli and tomato/rocket rolls, pikelets, poached eggs on Promite toast, brandade on rye, hot chips with lots of salt, mussels in vinegar, tomatoey sardines on toast… I could go on and on. All linked to different, special times and different stages of being grown up.

I guess what I’m saying is that, for me, the comfort/connection research is right. The connections and era that these foods mark is where the appeal, the comfort lies. It’s not just about having something from the past, it’s also about what that something represents – the snapshotted feeling, attitude or memory that is associated with the snack.

Ten percent of the enjoyment is in the flavour. The bulk of the comfort is in the crumbs that trail back home, to the feeling of belonging. To our own foodie history. To cosy/sweet days gone by.

What are your comfy foods? Is the comfort = connection thing true for you?

x Pip

more reading pink

How to make potato curry
How to make aloo gobi and dosa
How to make honeyed eggplant
How to make lamb rolls with aioli

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  • Reply cityhippyfarmgirl April 9, 2015 at 2:13 PM

    Food memories are the best Pip. The absolute best. I’ve often thought before what food memories am I creating for my own kids as we tumble along…I’m hoping the bread is a highlight, because damn I make a lot of it!

  • Reply Kendel April 9, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    My comfort food(s) are definitely cheese on toast, lasagne squares, chai lattes and soldiers and soft boiled eggs! Yum. I definitely believe in the comfort-connection theory! I alwaysssss have soldiers and soft boiled eggs whenever I miss my mum’s house or when I’m sick!

  • Reply Emma @ Emma's Garden Grows April 8, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    Mashed potato. Say nothing more.

  • Reply RebeccaHJ April 8, 2015 at 1:55 AM

    I love this post Pip and I think you’re spot on! I’m thinking of the cheese and potato scone midnight feasts that Darren used to make when we fell in love, and the creamed chicken on toast that my mum made me on winter nights, or the tiny bites of pear she cut up when I had tonsilitis. Aw. Love your words and your memories as always xx

  • Reply Helen April 7, 2015 at 11:19 PM

    Love your post. Love the line, “The bulk of the comfort is in the crumbs that trail back home, to the feeling of belonging”….absolutely agree….I definitely agree with the comfor = connection idea….and it’s one that’s taunting me at the moment actually….we’re far from home and I’m missing my comfort foods (baked beans on toast with grated cheddar cheese, for example)….it’s awful when your sources of comfort (for connection) are unavailable…..truly awful….I find myself longing for things I can’t taste…and feel myself losing connection with everything ‘home’ all over again when the cravings strike and I can’t satiate them…. 🙁

  • Reply Jo April 7, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    Every Sunday we would pick up nana from Mass and go back to hers for scones and tea. Then she’d give dad some for our dinner – mum worked a Sunday night shift as a nurse. We’d all get into their bed and watch Disneyland and eat scones with beetroot and pickles for dinner! My sisters and I must be the only people ever with that as comfort food – makes me feel cosy and safe still. Xox

    • Reply Meet Me At Mikes April 7, 2015 at 9:28 PM

      Oh my gosh Jo! That is the best. It made me cry. So happy that you shared that and so happy you guys had beetroot and pickle scones!!! x

    • Reply PatrickC April 7, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      Ah Disneyland, 6.30pm Sunday nights on Channel 7. I remember that so well. We’d have left overs from lunch for Sunday dinner or if we’d gone out visiting mum would quickly knock up with some flaky pastry and ricotta a batch of Maltese Pastizzi. They were ad still are a staple in the homes of most people with a Maltese background. There is always a couple of dozen in my freezer.

      Saturday nights when I was a bit older were always a treat. I was allowed to stay up and watch the first hour of Mary Hardys Penthouse Club which was on channel 7. Mum and dad would be having a scotch or something like that and I’d be allowed to have a glass of dry ginger. I felt so grown up. That show had some amazing performers as guests. There was one night that I have never forgotten however. On this particular night Mary had her brother Frank Hardy on (Of power without Glory fame) and they had this huge argument about politics. I don’t remember the content but I remember my parents sitting there with their mouths wide open in shock. (By the way Frank was Marieke Hardys grandfather and Mary her great aunt).

      Thanks for prompting the memories Pip and Jo.



  • Reply Loretta April 7, 2015 at 8:57 PM

    Your little side plates so took me back in time. My Mum had those (and sadly I have no longer Mum or the plates) and drew up from my memory Heinz spaghetti with thick slices of bread and butter. Then there are the almost cold roast potatoes left over from Sunday lunch.
    Another great memory for me is spaghetti bolognaise from our time as a penniless newly weds – such lovely memories can be conjured up from food. It’s so very true that the comfort is more about the associated feelings than the taste, but that helps too.

  • Reply Deb Baker April 7, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    So many foodie memories have just come flooding back with this post Pip. My mum was a working mum and often when we were young we (my brother and I) would make our own dinner – melted cheese on toast or as Mum liked to call it “Welsh Rarebit” because it sounded so much fancier. It reminds me of those lovely carefree days of childhood. Comfort food is definitely a connection thing. Another one for me is 2 minute noodles. Brings back memories of when I left home and that’s all I could make/afford. Wonderful memories. xx

  • Reply Little White Dove April 7, 2015 at 8:26 PM

    What lovely food stories Pip! I really enjoyed reading about the random memories & associations related to certain foods… I too have a few special ones that relate to when Kiandra was born, it was back in the day when I could eat bread so I can sadly only reminisce about it now, but I’d still consider it comfort food. Fresh white bread (high top dusted with flour) cut into massive slabs/slices, with a soft/medium boiled egg and stacks of fresh iceburg lettuce. The best fresh healthy quick sandwich my mum would make for me for lunch during those first few weeks of having a newborn baby. Left over roast lamb with some of Grandma’s Tomato sauce will always take me to Grandma & Grandpops house in Belgrave with the outside loo! Pumpkin soup and I’m back with the kids when they were kinda/school age as it was such a regular on our menu due it’s budget and time friendly ways. I can almost smell the fresh new pencils and school bags ‘scent’ just talking about it now! I also find perfume transports me in time… I go through perfume phases and sometimes I can smell an old favourite and feel like I’ve gone back in time. Happy jaffle days to you 🙂

    • Reply Meet Me At Mikes April 7, 2015 at 9:06 PM

      Oh that famous Tomato Sauce?! I love cold roast lamb with tomato sauce. We used to have it in sandwiches… it was nice, if a bit mushy… Those egg and lettuce sandwiches sound amazing. Once I went to Sydney and they served me toast cut SO THICK (like slabs) I could hardly believe my eyes. Gosh it was good. We need more slabby toast. We do… x

  • Reply Isabel April 7, 2015 at 7:33 PM

    The comfort = connection thing is undoubtedly true when it comes to food, Pip. My comfiest of all comfort foods is Vegemite toast. Boring, maybe, but comforting, yes indeed. If I haven’t had it for a while I find myself craving it big time. My Grandma’s ‘jelly cakes’ are also a comfort food, and spaghetti bolognese. I remember being 10 years old and racing home from basketball on a Saturday night with my brother, starving, to a bowl of Mum’s spaghetti bolognese, followed by Gladiators on the telly. I also remember the Cheesy Toast from Stephanie’s restaurant on Bridge Rd – I had it only once as I was a poor student and couldn’t really afford it, but man, was it cheesy and delicious! Such a special treat. x

    • Reply Meet Me At Mikes April 7, 2015 at 9:04 PM

      Because I read this, I had to make vegemite toast. YUM. Thank YOU! Also – jelly cakes are the best. Did you have bolognese sandwiches like Reannon did? I must say I have never tried that, but I’m all for it… x

      • Reply Isabel April 7, 2015 at 10:29 PM

        Wow, I can’t believe I influenced the great Pip Lincolne into making Vegemite toast, all the way from China…I’m proud! No, I have never ever eaten a spag bol sandwich (I just asked Steve if he ever had and he said ‘Pssh, yeah, Sloppy Joe?’ as if it was the most obvious thing in the world to eat. We obviously missed the memo!

        Hot tip on jelly cakes. If you are ever in South Australia, and passing through Mt Gambier (on the border of SA and VIC) you must go to the Mt Gambier Working Women’s Depot. Elizabeth St, Mount Gambier. Seriously, their jelly cakes are amazing and cost almost nothing. And they also sell crochet blankets. And all the money goes to charity. Word. x

  • Reply Carolyn April 7, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    For me comfort foods are all about being enveloped by the warmth of family love, and like Reannon, they are all hot foods. Peaches and berries are lovely but hardly comfort food! Spag Bol, chicken noodle soup, creamy chicken casserole. They are all like a hug from my mum! And whilst I still have a milo every night and don’t classify it as a comfort food as such, one of my enduring food memories is arriving home for primary school after a drenching walk in the rain, sitting in my dressing gown after a warm bath and watching our just delivered new colour television with a warm milo. Such a treat because milos were always reserved for just before bed!

    • Reply Meet Me At Mikes April 7, 2015 at 9:05 PM

      Spag Bol is getting a lot of votes tonight in the comfort food stakes! I like it with garlic bread, I must admit. It’s a match made in heaven!

  • Reply PatrickC April 7, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Comfort food,

    Funny for me comfort food always is linked to the winter colder months because there was the time to make it. When I was a kid on Saturdays for lunch he would make this fry up. He’d steam potatoes just enough to slip the skin off and cut them into what we would now call wedge size. He’d rip up rashers of bacon and depending on how many of us he’d crack eggs into a bowl and whisk them. Then everything would go into his favourite cast iron frypan and be tossed about until done. Just yummo.

    Saturdays at the football we would take his blue flask full of black sweet tea and by a hot pie with sauce. Always a square Beaumonts and we’d stand close to the Moorabool Street wing near the gates. Then Saturday nights would always be toasted Vienna loaf with the reply on the ABC channel 2 with “Uncle Doug” giving his pronouncements on all the games.

    Sunday lunch was always a roast sometimes if my grandfather had been over it would be one of his rabbits.

    When I moved out of home at twenty one of my comfort foods was a spaghetti with pieces of home made salami.

    In my mid twenties Sunday mornings with my soul mate were always a lie in when I made “our” omelette. Simple, boiled spaghetti cut into thirds and thrown in with 6 whisked eggs and some parsley from her herb garden. Golden thick toast and coffee and snuggles afterwards. I still make that sometimes and tilt my eyes to the sky and say hello.

    Its the simple foods shared that give the greatest of comfort.

    Thanks for sharing Pip.

    • Reply Meet Me At Mikes April 7, 2015 at 7:11 PM

      Oh that’s beautiful, Patrick. So many tastes and memories all tied up in a bundle. Thanks for sharing them. So evocative and transporting… (Thick toast is so good…) x

    • Reply Isabel April 7, 2015 at 10:44 PM

      I just read out your post to my husband, and we started talking about how we would remember each other through food once the inevitable happened. Thank you for sharing your special omelette memory with us all Patrick. I know that every time I butter toast, I think how Steve likes it done right to the edges and not too stingy. Making toast for someone/having it made for you is such a lovely thing. I remember reading a book called Toast by Nigel Slater, around 10 years ago now, which was all about food memories. It was a great read. x

      • Reply PatrickC April 8, 2015 at 12:28 PM

        Thanks Isabel,

        I must find a copy of Nigels book.

  • Reply Sam April 7, 2015 at 6:44 PM

    Awww! This post has made me crave soldiers and runny googy eggs (with faces drawn on them before getting boiled – hopefully that wasn’t toxic!). I have just realised how much of an emotional connection there is with everything I eat! I thought I was all about the ‘deliciousness’ but it’s probably only 20% with 80% being about connection/comfort – wow!

  • Reply Jane @ Shady Baker April 7, 2015 at 6:07 PM

    I could eat any of those things, right now Pip! Cold, windy and grey at my place tonight…perfect comfort food weather. Homemade pizza about to hit the oven x

  • Reply Reannon @shewhorambles April 7, 2015 at 5:13 PM

    Oh I love reading about all your food memories Pip.

    On the weekend I had one of my all time favourite comfort foods- left over spaghetti bolognese on a white bread sandwich. It was one of my favourite school lunches & I still really love eating today.

    I think comfort food falls into two categories- the food of my past that takes me back to that time or place & makes me feel happy or food that literally comforts me, like the way a bowl of stew does on a wet winters day or a hot pudding with cold ice cream does while snuggled up on the couch.

    I’m pretty certain that all my comfort foods are hot foods. As much as I love salad & cereal they are not comfort foods.

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