I don’t know what all this staying-at-home, pandemic avoidance has done to you, but for me it’s sent my comfort-food cravings into overdrive. I’ve done more baking in the past few months than I have in years. I’ve also experimented with enough new dinner recipes to start my own cooking-through-COVID YouTube channel. Over the past six months the definition of comfort food has expanded way beyond Mom’s tomato soup and cheese sandwiches. The scent of a peach cobbler or cinnamon rolls baking, and/or diving into a new recipe for a fabulous meal, embodies burrowing into home and hearth, shutting out the world, and thumbing my nose at the shroud of uncertainty that touches every aspect of life outside my front door.
In the middle of all this cocooning and playing Martha Stewart, I came across an article about food cravings being a window to one’s inner landscape. I thought this was a profound statement. I wish I could give credit to its originator, but darned if I can remember the source. Anyway…this statement started me thinking about how food cravings, and even food textures, might reveal a lot about not just our coping mechanisms, but our inner selves. So, of course that promoted a bit more research and a short bout of self-examination.
I love super spicy foods—curries, salsas, anything with green chiles—which is supposed to mean I am looking for intensity in my life. Now anyone who knows me, knows the last thing I need is more intensity. Am I wrong? The other side of craving spicy is smooth and soothing; e.g., ice cream! Can there be a more satisfying concoction? I know of only one person who honestly doesn’t like ice cream (Jo, are you reading this?) and I love her to pieces, but OMG, I’ve never understood how is it humanly possible not to revel in the rich, creamy decadence of good ice cream. I’m talking about the lovely smooth stuff, unmarred by tooth-cracking nonsense like nuts and candy. I mean the silky, sensual, super rich ice cream that slides down your throat and coats your insides with pure, indulgent satisfaction. Does this mean I have a personality that is both intense and leans to the sensual? Possibly, but think I should move on here before someone decides to actually answer this question.
So what about salty versus sweet? A bigger divide than conservative versus liberal. Does that preference change with your mental state? Do you prefer salty when you’re happy but something sweet when you’re depressed? And what about textures like crunchy or soft? Does the need to seriously crunch down on something that crackles and splits apart when you bite into it mean you have unresolved anger issues? Or is it a need for attention? With every loud crunch are you saying, “Hey, I’m here. Look at me. See me.” Food for thought. On the other hand, soft foods are said to comforting. Can anyone deny that soft, starchy, freshly baked bread is anything less than a mouthful of warm hugs?
From what I am learning, it sounds like I should come with a warning label. I love sweets, especially caramel and chocolate cake, which translates to being friendly and compassionate. I think I can raise my hand here. I try to be just that. But the flip side is that someone who enjoys their coffee black, drinks tonic water, and eats radishes might be a psychopath. I’m going to leave that right here, but don’t ever say I didn’t warn you.
Lucky for me I have an excuse to bail on that last one. That “ding” was the chile rellanos telling me they’re done. Ice cream with caramel sauce for dessert?