Saturday, October 25, 2008
Pastel on paper
available as giclee reprint through
Do you remember comfort foods? Those meals you were served by someone who cared about you when you were (pick one) ill, about to be ill, or faking it? That fare was usually bland, mushy and moist.
An oncoming cold got me to thinking how much I missed the comfort foods of my childhood. My dad’s offering was white bread sans crust, served in a bowl of warm milk in which butter had been melted and swirled. I think now that the real appeal of that sodden mess was that it was served to me while I lay in bed. Mom would find the bed tray at the top of the closet, dust it off and snap open the legs that never would keep it quite stable. She’d tuck a bath towel under my chin -- even at the kitchen table, I was certain to spill -- and another on my lap. And there I sat, a four-year-old Jabba the Hutt in training, swaddled, sweaty, and slurping my bread-and-milk dinner.
As I got older, my sick bed tastes became more sophisticated. By 10, I was no longer satisfied with that baby mush. I’d moved on to my mother’s oatmeal. Leftover and reheated. With butter. Lots of butter.
And that’s what I and my sore throat needed today. Add a dash of salt and half a cup of whole oats to a cup of boiling water. Cook until most of the water has been absorbed. (You want thickness here.) Let it cool to room temperature. Add butter. Lots of butter. (We’re not worrying about calories and cholesterol. Remember, this is comfort food!) Reheat on low and stir until the butter is melted and incorporated into the oatmeal. Now for the best part: tuck a bath towel under your chin and another on your lap. Feet up, bowl of oatmeal at the ready...contentment, coziness, and luxury...all in a simple bowl of oatmeal.