Local chefs remember cultural foods they find comfort in: Andrew Copolino Pipa News

Local chefs remember cultural foods they find comfort in: Andrew Copolino

Comfort food is often thought of as a simple dish, but it’s more complicated when you consider its universal meaning.

The term dates back to the 1970s when actress Liza Minelli is sometimes credited with coining the phrase. She clearly stated that burgers and baked potatoes were her favorite meals.

Canadian comfort food — and that has to include poutine — has made its way onto many high-end casual restaurant menus in Canada: think meatloaf with gravy and mac and cheese. A few years ago there was a notable revival of grilled cheese, the gooey sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup.

Comfort foods are ultimately so personal that they can be decadent and indulgent; They are often nostalgic and recreate memories of cooking at Grandma’s.

But as a style of cooking, they are not uniquely North American, although this expression is not used in other countries and cultures.

it’s all in the kitchen

Kitchener’s America Latina Eatery & Grocery owner Maynor García calls it the ‘saffron comida’, saying he grew up in Guatemala and that comfort food isn’t just what you eat, but who has it. cooked.

For Mayor Garcia, owner of an America Latina restaurant and grocery store, comfort food or “comida saffron” isn’t necessarily what you eat, but who cooked it. (Andrew Copolino/CBC)

“If you work in town, you will eat your lunch at a place that serves comida saffron. That means it’s like grandma’s home-cooked meals. Where you get your food from, more than that, it makes you feel who is serving that dish and how hot it is,” Garcia said.

It could be pupusa or sopa de res which makes it feel like you’re eating in your grandma’s kitchen, he adds.

“It’s the feeling.”

According to Thompson Tran of Wooden Boat Food Company in Kitchener, if you go to Vietnam, you won’t find pho in comfort food form, although it’s popular here. On the contrary, the foods prepared by her mother and grandmother are comfort foods for her – and for others.

“For me, it would be fish sauce caramel in a coconut broth with cooked pork belly, eggs and spicy green mustard khoya. It’s a main dish that you can’t find in restaurants, but you can find in every home. are,” said. Form.

Chef Tran of Wooden Boat Food Company in Kitchener says his favorite comfort food is thit kho, a traditional Vietnamese dish. (Andrew Copolino/CBC)

Growing up in British Columbia, Tran Berry remembers working in the fields and enjoying a delicious, soothing thermos meal of Thit Kho with steamed rice. They were nutritious but also a relief from hard work.

“Food has never tasted better and I never get tired of this deserved food,” he said. “I will always finish the last tablespoon of rice in my bowl with a little broth. I always do that.

Tran points out that dishes in Vietnam carry with them meaningful names; For example, he translates the name of a comforting bitter melon soup, Kanh Kho Kwa, as “All sorrows shall pass”.

memory food

Comfort food isn’t just a hot meal in cold weather – all of the cooks I’ve spoken to are from warm countries. According to chef Tenyle Warren, Jamaica is a hot country, but soup is a regular food item.

Warren tells the story by sharing a photo of beef and pumpkin soup made by his father. It brought back memories and Warren made a lot of it and shared this photo with a friend.

For Chef Tenile Warren, who is a Cantonese chow mein, comfort food can come from a culture outside of his own. (Andrew Copolino/CBC)

“So three different people in three different countries were eating beef and pumpkin soup,” Warren said.

However, comfort food can also come from a culture outside of one’s own, Warren explains.

“Casual food is sentimental. It’s nostalgic and sentimental. It is food that we associate with special times or a person. I crave Cantonese chow mein, especially when I’m not feeling well. What I know of Jamaica.

According to local chef Ariel Niels, the nostalgic aspect extends to culinary techniques. She said the food she calls comfort tastes better when an older generation cooks it using traditional techniques. It makes sense that coconut would taste better when grinding it by hand rather than in a blender.

Food columnist Andrew Copolino, left, visited Kitchener’s for a lesson in making pastels in chef Ariel Niels’ home kitchen. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

“Is it Trinity soul food or is it traditional food,” Niels said of how comfort food could be described. “It’s traditional, old-fashioned cooking. And the food tastes different. We like to say, “It’s sweet. It tastes like sweet food,” she said.

As fall begins and with it the end of summer, children return to school and routines return to normal as winter approaches. I find that comfort food can often indicate a sadness that goes beyond nostalgia.

“Comfort food means a feeling of caring, a feeling of being at home, and a feeling that brings back memories” Maria de Sousa. (Andrew Copolino/CBC)

It is a feeling that the Portuguese call “saudade”, a word that cannot be translated into English, but which emulates a feeling of “loss” or “sweet sadness”, at the same time that you feel satisfied. do, according to Maria de Sousa who operates a Portuguesa bakery in St. Jacobs Market.

“Comfort food means a feeling of caring, that feeling of being home, and that feeling that brings back memories for you,” de Sousa said.

“Offers are times when you’ve been really happy.”

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