Thursday, 2 October 2008

Comfort Food

If there are two words more, well, comforting than ‘comfort’ and ‘food’ then I am yet to hear them (although ‘Obama’ and ‘landslide’ do come a very close second). Even the simple act of saying those two little words can cause smiles and quivers of anticipation and an insatiable desire for a large plate of something warming and stodgy.

Comfort food is more than sustenance. It is food for the soul as well as the belly, a meal that warms the heart and the head in equal measure and leaves you in a faint fug of tiredness with a look of happy exhaustion playing across your face and a desire to fall asleep on the sofa while episodes of favourite comedies play themselves out on the television.

It is a concept that means different things to different people. One of the most interesting occurrences to come out of the ‘Desert Island Food’ game was the stark difference in what is considered to be comforting. For those raised on a western European diet, potatoes and bread feature heavily whilst those of Asian extraction showed a bias for rice. I dare say that, broadly, the pattern would be repeated in other parts of the world and I look forward to reading more ‘Desert Island Food’ lists. If you haven’t yet taken part, the original post is here.

With the mornings and evenings getting increasingly cooler, we’ve finally had to succumb to the wonders of central heating. We’ve also had our chimneys swept so that we can enjoy a real log fire instead of merely flicking the switch to turn on the radiators – far more appropriate, and satisfying, for life in the countryside.

There are few meals more apt for eating in front of a crackling fire than sausages and mashed potato, complete with decadent amounts of onion gravy, naturally. Add to that a bottle of rib-stickingly thick red wine and a few episodes of The Wire and you have a recipe for the ultimate comfort scenario. So, that’s exactly what we did.

Sadly no photos – by the time it was all ready the light had gone and we were left with an un-photographable plate of deliciousness – but for lunch I turned the leftover mash (pepped up with some fiery English mustard) into potato cakes, fried in a little olive oil and goose fat.

This is the best use of leftovers ever. Ever. Ever. I challenge you to think of one that trumps it.


Alicia Foodycat said...

Those are good looking potato cakes! Pasta is my ultimate comfort food really. We ate so much of it when I was a child that if I am wilting a bit or feeling a bit sooky, it needs to be pasta!

HH said...

That sounds like an excellent dinner and they are some nice looking potato cakes! I agree that it is an excellent use of leftovers, having done almost the same today making a big batch of potato bread/irish griddle scones.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%! I like chunky mashed potatoes with cilantro, garlic and red onions mixed in. After I fry them, I mix up a little avocado and sour cream, season that up and dollop it on top of the cakes...WHEW! Heaven!

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%! I like chunky mashed potatoes with cilantro, garlic and red onions mixed in. After I fry them, I mix up a little avocado and sour cream, season that up and dollop it on top of the cakes...WHEW! Heaven!

Hopie said...

Did you say "Obama" and "landslide"? Or are you talking about the kinds of food we might need if the opposite of those words happens (potatoes, maybe, and also pints of ice cream and super fudge brownies and mountains of apple pie à la mode)? A while back in June, I posted an entry on an "Obama Cocktail" that's been getting a lot of hits lately. People are either planning to celebrate or drown their sorrows in some comfort liquor...

Your potato cakes look like a wonderful use of leftovers. It's getting cold here and I've been craving a big plate of potatoes to warm me up!

Anonymous said...

I strongly encourage you to submit this to our Potato Ho Down Roundup!

Anonymous said...

Anything cooked in goose fat is going to be awesome :D
Thankfully these look much more than just "anything".

I agree, they could quite possibly be the best leftovers ever.

vanillasugarblog said...

This is definitely comfort food at its best. Love this!!

bee said...

i think potatoes rank high on the 'comfort food' list in most cultures. makes one wonder how it was before potatoes spread from South America to other parts o the world.

Anonymous said...

So, what is the point of mentioning a political opinion inside of a food post? Are you looking for a way to alienate half of your readers?

Aren't you from the UK anyway? What do you consider to be your stake in the election?

Just Cook It said...

foodycat - thanking you. Pasta is a near perfect comfort food too, especially when covered with cheese.

hh - If I have the patience, then I turn leftover mash into potato bread but I rarely do, hence the frying!

anon - Sounds amazing, top tip for next time

hopie - thank you. Good winter food, perfect for warming the soul.

hillary - thanks for the tip, I'll head on over

matt - great minds...

dawn - thanks for the comment, glad you agree

bee - I know, I find it hard to imagine life without the humble potato

matthew - thanks for your comment, I'll respond on your blog.