Comfort Food

Yes, that is indeed a gigantic Kraft Dinner noodle. Thank you, America
I really, really love Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.

No, you're smiling right now, I know. You're thinking, "Haha, yeah, me too, PBJ's, that's the life."

Stop that.

This is bigger than camaraderie. I love them. Love. Like, the actual emotion. Like, I have an intense, fraught, passionate relationship with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Look at it. Tell me this doesn't look beautiful.
Macaroni and Cheese is another one. I like the cheap Kraft kind even (though I LOVE it when its gussied up). Macaroni and Cheese, I... oh god. If I could  wake tomorrow, and have a thick, gooey PBJ for lunch and be able to play around with throwing different things in macaroni for dinner, every day, for the rest of my life, I would reconsider my ongoing feud with God.

*weeps, like a passionate art student at the Louvre*
Unquestionably, if I were to describe my affection for these two foods, it would be that they are 'comfort foods'.  Neither of these are the haute cuisine dandies that one is supposed to dream about. Macaroni is not my foie gras. It is, in the film by the same name, my ratatouille, precious because it makes me feel small and safe and simple, in a way adulthood does not.

I loved these foods as a child and I certainly took comfort in them. but it was of a different sort. Having a peanut butter sandwich, on the one hand was simply delicious, but in terms of comfort... well, I don't really remember. I remember desiring them when I was upset, or when I wished to be brave. If I were to guess, I vaguely remember them giving me a feeling of the general predictability of the world. Some things, in a child's world, must be anchors, they must not move. My mother must love me and want the best for me. My mind must be dependable. The trees must always stay there, and there must always be a bed that is mine. And peanut butter sandwiches must always taste and feel just so.
You think Mothers always love you? You sad little fool!
It is different now. Now, I now none of those things are altogether true. I live, adulthood tells me, in a world where there are no anchors (where one moors, if you will, at sea).

Everything in life is the possible subject of catastrophic change. Love can end, children can die, trees can fall, or worse, rot in place, and heaven could very well just be the wishful thinking of someone very long ago. The sea batters at the ship of maturity, and you must sail, though your charts are lost and your compass swings wild.


Peanut butter sandwiches are still the same. And when you eat one, for just a moment, you can curl up inside of it and say, "Yes, I know, I must be a grownup now, and it frightens me, and I don't recognize this thing I've become. But... I AM the same person. I still have a little heart that sat at the diamond-cut wood table that mother bought from the gypsies ( I miss that table) and ate a sandwich that tasted just like this. Just precisely like this. And it is a little less hopeless, a little less frightening.

Thanks macaroni.


Lu @ Regular Rumination said...

I love this. It helps that I am a peanut butter and jelly aficionado as well. And mac & cheese - yum. I've taken to making the Amy's powdered kind and throwing in peas or whatever I have in the freezer and it's just so comforting.

Jason Gignac said...

Ms Lu - Oh, its good to know I'm not the only one! I was walking out of the library, today, and there was a cookbook of all macaroni and cheese recipes, and I just picked it up and hugged it. Macaroni and cheese is the kindliest of mothers. It accepts any child, give it what you will: curry to cassava, sausage to salsa, all have a home there if they only ask.

Debi said...

Wow...this is truth. For me it's "toast and cocoa" (hot buttered toast and hot chocolate). Definitely comfort food--the food my Mom always made us when we were sick as kids. I have a very delicate relationship with it though--I'll only let myself have it once in a while. I think I fear that it will somehow lose its magical ability to comfort if I call on it too often.

Jason Gignac said...

Ms Debi, you're probably right to do so, to an extent - I have the urge towards burning my candle at both ends. Natural consequence keeps me honest: Amanda generally hate mac and cheese, AND with both of them, her gluten intolerance keeps the two foods mostly out of the house :D. So I eat macaroni at restaurants. And PBJ's, I keep the ingredients in the bottom drawer of my desk at work. Just in case.