Michelle Osborne continues the comfort food series, exploring a taste of home at university.
Comfort food is a huge thing for me at the moment. As a new university student, I take anything which reminds me of normality, comfort and home. There is no uniform comfort food; it is something which is unique for everybody. It may be something which was always cooked by your parents, something which makes you feel warm inside, but for me, it is something which has always been easy and simple.
Since coming to university, I have cooked countless meals. Usually I make a curry or spaghetti bolognese for my evening meal. Every meal I eat is something I like, something I enjoy cooking and look forward to. The same meals I cook are favourites back at home too. Dad’s spaghetti bolognese is possibly my favourite meal ever! I love these foods which remind me of my parents cooking, but I can never perfectly reproduce how they make it.
For me, comfort food must also bring excitement. Each time I eat unhealthy foods, such as chocolate or crisps, it is reminiscent of when I was a kid with my mum letting me eat a sugary snack for a special occasion. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to get this feeling from eating copious amounts of on-sale Doritos. Sitting and watching Netflix while snacking is unbelievably comforting in a different way from home cooking. Excitement is perhaps the best part of comfort eating for me.
My comfort food has always been something which I’ve not had often. As much as I love mundane foods like toast or cereal, they don’t give me the ultimate comfort. I’d happily eat toast as a part of every meal: there is nothing that it doesn’t work with, it never fails. However, I never feel that there is anything special about it. Eating toast doesn’t make me feel any different to how I feel on a daily basis. This is because it is so normal, with nothing special to it. Comfort food must be special to me.
Macaroni and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. At home, I’d never have it. My mum and sister both hate cheese, so nobody would ever make it. I’d only ever have it when we picked ready meals from the supermarket. In my family, I’m known for loving pasta and drowning my food in cheese. It was always bought for me when we had no food in, but always felt special because it was only ever eaten by me.
I didn’t know this was my comfort food until I moved away from home. It was the last meal I had at home – it was a special version with bacon cooked into the sauce. I’d thought to make it as a meal, but never knew what recipe would be best. For weeks, I had cravings for it, and planned to buy it as a ready meal from the supermarket. I’d even go round to friends’ flats to try theirs just to fill my cravings!
The best part of mac and cheese for me, like any comfort food, is how it can cheer me up when I feel down. People don’t always have explanations for their comfort food. It may be something cheap or expensive; from home or from their favourite restaurant, anything can be comfort food. As long as it makes you happy and feel safe, it’s a comfort food for you.