Despite my severe shellfish allergy, I always look froward to being in New Orleans. I love all there is about New Orleans. The video, the music, the food, the people. I just have to always be sober enough to order my food with my (shellfish) dire warning to the chef. Last night as I ate at a “fancy” restaurant in San Fransisco that had shrimp or fish sauce as every other ingredient, I longed for a hole in the wall where a random guy or two would come in, set themselves up out front, and sing till we were up on our feet.
Sadly, I have experienced some horrible dental pain this past week that I was given antibiotics, and two types of heavy painkillers. As a result I am walking around in a bit of a daze. I can barely chew at the moment and miss my home dearly as well. Interacting with my son via skype, while it gets me my immediate “fix” to talk to him, I long to grab his little hand in mine. That longing, coupled with my toothache, just makes me wish I had a big cup of gumbo or my island’s version of gumbo-called asopao. A nice thick brown broth with rice and chicken is what my mind, body and soul need at the moment. I would also settle for some catfish. Thankfully, I can still eat that type of fish. Sadly, not only do I have a shellfish allergy but now I have also developed allergies to salmon and many other fish. But my beloved catfish is still in my repertoire. I just have to find a local place that will cook it the way my darlin’ New Orleans does.
It is amazing how just the thought of “comfort” food can settle one’s mind for a second or two. I can sit and daydream and then be taken back in time to a moment where I delighted in said comforts. Now that I think fondly on those foods, I am transported to a hole in the wall in a side street in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Assuredly, not many “outsiders” went in to that restaurant. I ordered their asopao and it was the best I had ever had. I ordered a cocktail and they had no idea how to mix drinks so they allowed me to go behind bar and mix my own. How glorious is that? They only charged me like $1.50. Memories of little moments like that bring a smile to my hurting mouth.
It was a wonderful memory in that we had dared to go into an unknown place, where we were unknown and looked at skeptically upon entering. However, within minutes were were comforted with warm delicious food and made friends as we tended bar. Dare to dream. Dare to go into the unknown. That’s what comfort food often reminds me of. Foods from my travels to and from home. The local soup should always be on one’s travel agenda. And in moments where you are a bit down, you then have those memories to lift you up.
As I am about to head off on a morning hike through the city hills of San Fransisco I will dream of such wonderfully seasoned soup as a reward. May you enjoy your own comfort food and soothe your stomach and soul.