Tag Archives: Comfort Food

So Fabrice is in Town

Nice steak & nice booze @ Jean-Claude

Good company, nice food & nice booze - Jean-Claude, NYC

Yes, he actually managed to overcome his fear of the swine flu. Good for him (and for us of course). Sadly we haven’t been able to visit all the places we wanted to take him to (yet). Typical, you will say: you have everything all planned out, and bim, Florent and Fabrice find more important stuff to do on their own. I actually¬† hardly saw them yesterday – apparently they had a video conference to attend to in the media room. When I tried to sneak into the room they had their headphones on and the Play Station was on. Weird. Also it was pretty noisy – sounded like a kung-fu battle with a metallic voice saying “YOU LOSE” once in a while. They told me not to worry. But I still worried a little.

That said, we did go out a little bit: I was disappointed by our Get Fresh brunch on Saturday, sadly: I could swear they did not serve as many pancakes as before. My scrambled eggs with heirloom beans and potatoes were not runny enough for me*. A bit dry.

Fabrice’s first reflex upon arrival was to drink a beer. Weird, I know. But the guy lives in Brussels after all. So we went to the Gate. Where else? And, since the weather was pretty nice last Friday we craved for Latin American flavors. So we went to Playa. Not much to say: the kind of restaurant where the food tastes AMAZING when you’ve had a lot of margharitas and beer before. But not so good when you go back there sober.

A nice discovery was Jean-Claude, in the city. I know, I know, a bit tacky to bring your French friend to a French restaurant in NYC (when the guy is only craving for burgers and various iterations of New American cuisine; whatever that means). But I must say I was really impressed by the quality of the meat there, both the lamb loin AND hanger steack: cooked to perfection, and nice gratin dauphinois. Good friends, good meat, and good service (for a French restaurant).

All in all, a nice start. We still have a lot of grounds to cover. It might prove even more difficult with the new swine flu surge. I had to convince Fabrice to get out of the apartment this morning. And that a mask with a pig groin is not (yet) trendy in NYC. We did manage to go to Root Hill for lunch though. And had a nice grilled cheese with bacon and tomato. I think Fabrice would agree that this could qualify as comfort food. Croque-Monsieur a l’americaine, quoi.

*Soon, I’ll write a post about scrambled eggs. And eggs in general actually. For there is one thing I don’t understand here, and it is the fear of eating runny eggs. Let me be clear, to me, scrambled eggs, soft boiled eggs, fried eggs are only good IF they are runny. The best being of course the oeufs a la coque. More on this later.

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Food to Comfort our Minds & Souls

Have you noticed how similar dating and job hunting are? Not that I have dated a lot in the past few years, but I do have a recollection of what it feels like. The joy when the person you like asks you out on the first date; the preparation (“What am I going to wear? What am I going to say? How should I present myself?”); the joy if the first date goes well. The “how come he has not called me yet?“; the second thoughts (“Maybe it did not go so well after all, it’s true that he actually didn’t talk that much. I was all over the place. Oh my god, I was pathetic after all.“)
And then the renewed joy when he calls back, the pressure that builds on you for the second date: “That’s when I need to score. That’s when I need to impress the guy“. And then the preparation. The talks with girlfriend, the “I have to wear something different from last time. What should I be? Corporate yet sexy? Sexy yet corporate? Funny yet focused? Ironic & realistic yet enthusiast?
The dialogues in your head (or even out loud, yes) . Of course you are the wittier funnier sexier yet corporate ever. Insomnia the night before. Butterflies in your stomach the morning of. And then comes the second interview. Well, second date, sorry.Your mouth is really dry, despite the four gums you’ve been chewing for the past three hours and the bottle of water you drank. You can’t talk. Everything you’re trying to say sounds like a pathetic rumble. Your Frrench accent ees strronger zan ever. Seriously, was that a joke I was trying to make? And there you are. Date is over. Interview is done. Your ex-future husband/ex-future boss is no doubt convinced that he made the biggest mistake in his life when accepting a second interview / granting a second date – or vice versa.

What on earth is she talking about? You’re asking yourself. This is a food blog here, not a sexandthecity/monster kind of blog. But you’ll see where I am getting at: for all this job searching has triggered a frequent and nagging need of comfort food. And I am pretty sure that, in this city of lonely souls and high unemployment, I am not the only one. So I thought it might help me, and my gazillions of lonely/unemployed readers to understand what it is that makes a dish comforting.

So here’s my stab at it. This will be my new category – my own little research on comfort food. First of all, let’s define the subject at hand.

Comfort food – i.e. food supposed to make you feel better. But let’s add one limit, just now (and this, after lengthy discussions with Fabrice on the definition and limits of comfort food). Let’s indeed, first focus on food that comforts your soul, not your body. Je m’explique: Fabrice and I agreed (and also Christian, who’s been a great help here) that there are two different types of occurrences when one might need comfort food:

1. When your body aches. For us thirty-something-with-no-kid, this most often happens when we are hangover. OR, when you have the swine flu and miss your mommy (don’t tell me this never happened to you).

2. When your mind or soul hurts. For example, when you’ve just been dumped. Or when you’ve just made a complete fool of yourself at a job interview. Or when you miss your mommy and daddy, alone on a Sunday night in an unfamiliar city.

Why, will you say, am I separating the two kinds? Well because comfort food will not answer to the same needs. In 1. comfort foods caters to a physiological need. In 2., comfort food answers to a psychological need.

So, let’s focus on the second one, and let me start by some rhetorical questions (which you gazillion readers of mine should feel free to answer nevertheless):

  • Is there an ultimate comfort food? or, rather, are there specific ingredients (and here I am thinking FAT, PASTA, POTATOES and CHEESE) which are universal comfort ingredients. OR – is comfort food completely and utterly cultural? OK – I think I know the answer to this one, but still…
  • Is comfort food mostly savory – or sweet?
  • Can comfort food be found in a restaurant? Or is comfort food quintessentially homemade?
  • Is comfort food comforting because it reminds you of happy moments in your life? La madeleine de Proust, quoi.

I won’t answer these questions today. But these will no doubt guide my thinking, which I will happily share with you in the next few weeks.

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