If you know me. You know I love to eat.
As a former fat kid, I am an expert on consuming foods of all varieties. I remember growing up our weekly ritual of going to the grocery store , ‘Super 1 Foods.’ It was a warehouse of joy and fun for me. All of my best friends were there – and for some reason all on the cereal aisle: Captain Crunch, Toucan Sam, Lucky the Leprechaun, and of course Snap, Crackle & Pop (my mom could make a MEAN Rice Krispies Treat).
We were tight – I loved them like a fat kid, well, the way I loved cake. Cake is also good.
Since I’m from the South, I am no stranger to comfort food. Home cooking is the BEST – roast, mashed potatoes, chicken fried steak, home baked pies – all the things. All of them.
Since my arrival, New York City has shed some new light on the term “comfort food” for me.
Transitioning to a new city is difficult. Your whole routine is shocked and catapulted into this purgatory where your normal is no longer possible. Everything is strange and you spend most of your time learning how to navigate spending your time.
While staying with that family (who again was wonderful), my time after work was a challenge. What do I do? I don’t really want to go ‘home’ because it didn’t feel like home at all. I felt like a guest that had to creep around and hide in my room.
My first option was this quaint little coffee shop – just a few tables with some disheveled chairs and a low rumble of chatting friends, giggling lovers, and the thunderous silence of students studying in an effort to make it through their next exam. It was typically decorated with little creativity. It looked a lot like a Starbucks.
OK, it was Starbucks.
Fine. I’ll stop romanticizing my experience strolling the city at night. While those little coffee shops exist I steered clear of them. I wanted nothing to do with the unknown – I had had my fill. Starbucks was safe, familiar, and stability in a life I had so dramatically disrupted.
But alas, even in a city that never sleeps, some Starbucks still close (which is false advertising, but I digress).
There I was – alone, cranky (because that Reduced-Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake did NOT do the trick), and fearful of a night un-satiated. I wandered again through the city and passed people all making their way with intention and purpose.
Do I wander “home” and go to bed hungry or die in the streets of hunger?
Then my savior appeared…
Alright, admittedly this is a pretty dramatic retelling of a ridiculously lame evening, but I had never been more thrilled to see some sad version of Tex-mex in my life. It beckoned to me like an old friend I’d not seen in years, but knew we could immediately pick up where we left off. It was joy, something I knew well, and most importantly and old friend that provided comfort.
I ate the hell out of my feelings that night. I never thought of “comfort food” as actually providing comfort. For me, it was way to describe a type of “home cooking.”
And it still is – it makes wherever you are feel like home, and I’m making New York home one Grande Americano and Chipotle Chicken Burrito at time.