Friday, March 6, 2009

Comfort Food

Thank you, Mark Allin, for the image.

This is comfort food season. It has been raining off and on for a month (and to think in January, it seemed like it was going to make a dry winter!). The sun is out, but so is the arctic bluster. I have been only reluctantly including greens in our meals (because, dammit, they do taste good and are good for you, unlike, say, gin) because when I think of food right now, I think of starch. Warm, steamy starch, with lots of butter or bacon, or both. Butter and salt and cream and cheese. The warm, greasy, salty starch could be in the form of mac n' cheese, or noodles, or butternut squash, or warm, communist beets, or oatmeal bake drowned in maple syrup, or potatoes (sweet or Russet).

I was raised on comfort food (my mother is a bona fide comfortfoodie-- tho' i suppose most mothers are). Beef is a huge part of her comfort food repertoir. It would probably be a part of mine, too, except I am too lazy to walk the four blocks to the nearest market-with-a-butcher when I get a craving, so generally, my comfort foods tend to be vegetarian-ish, until now.

Patricia Unterman, who may be my favorite living gastronomer, wrote in her Food Lover's guide to San Francisco about a Chinese cash-only sausage place that was tucked behind an ice cream parlor. Not only was it an intriguing combination, but it was blocks from my house. I had no excuse not to hunt it down. After searching for about five minutes on the specified block, I found the dessert place, and in the back, as promised, was a whole wall devoted to sausages.

Sausage, of any sort makes me nervous when I think about it too much. I get even more squeemy when I think about sausages of the East (not that occidental food can't be gross, its just that its a grossness that I am used to) so I don't think too much about these shriveled, chewy, pink, sweet wieners-- what goes in them, or if there is MSG.

Patricia recommended dropping the sausages in a pot of uncooked rice, and then steaming the whole thing at once. In spite of the fact they are dried, they are not cooked. According to the ice cream lady (the sausage lady didn't speak English), they need to be steamed at 175 for 15 minutes.

I tried it as soon as I got home. Hot, fluffy, white rice, topped with decadent little meat candies, what could be more comforting?


H said...

Oatmeal. This is my latest favorite comfort food. And it's easy, cheap, I don't go through as much rice milk as I do with cereal and it fills me up. I'm getting in touch with my Scottish roots. But the sausages thing sounds intreguing... I've done that with fish and chicken, in the rice cooker no less.

Camille said...

Now I want to have dinner at your house! dutch keeps bugging me about getting a rice cooker. i just realized that would be a good idea, he might cook more.

The Nikkster said...

Oh, you MUST get a rice cooker. I got hooked on Siem Reap's little sausages hanging in the dried meat section of the Old Market. I would crave these sliced and fried up nicely crisp, then eat them like popcorn. So much grease left in the pan though...

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I blog about life and soup, but mostly soup.