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A Bite of Comfort

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Comfort food. Sometimes it’s familiarity, and other times it’s an escape. To seek a bite of comfort is to capture a feeling or state of mind. It can be a chocolate kind of comfort or a healthy high from gardening.

This week writers explored comfort food. Stories emerged from the relationships people forge with food, and it isn’t always what you expect.

The following is based on the May 4, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about comfort food.

***

Morning Song by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Midnight river of earthy darkness, tumbles into indigo coffee cup, cutting the heavy silence of an empty house. A single Tangelo, head snapped open, peel bent and bursting forth with the sharp scent of new ideas.

Sunrise dapples through east-facing trees, trickles onto the cement stoop, floods cracked stairs stepping down to suburban street. Neighbors, unmet after double-decade’s propinquity, are starting their daily commute.

Do they see the other reality, the tumbled out of bed into shorts and sweatshirt, knees hugged close with coffee steaming, dreaming?

No matter.

Citrus sprays, catches sun, as she bites into the new morning.

###

Adobo by Lady Lee Manila

My comfort food
Our national dish
One way to preserve food
The taste of the Philippines anywhere in the world
I can use chicken or pork, marinade it with vinegar
Soy sauce, garlic, onions, salt and pepper, bay leaves
Cook the meat until brown, then add the marinade
Simmer until cooked. Serve with rice and peas
Also good for picnics and family gatherings
So easy to make and no two adobos are alike
No other dish can replace adobo in my heart!

###

Comfort Food by FloridaBorne

“What are you eating,” my sister asked.

“Dried lima beans and ham hocks,” I replied.

“You know I hate lima beans!”

“You eat cantaloupe in my presence even though you know it smells and tastes like vomit to me,” I said, stabbing a giant Lima with a fork.

“Something is wrong with your taste buds,” she decreed.

“Thank you for sharing a medical expertise that a million doctors with actual degrees can’t match,” I chuckled. “If you don’t like my comfort food, don’t watch me eat.”

The door slammed shut and I smiled, eagerly reaching for my hidden chocolates.

###

An Uncomfortable Meal by Gordon Le Pard

Everyone else was asleep but he couldn’t settle.

“What had he eaten?” He felt uncomfortable.

His companions had caught the bird, a Rhea, a flightless bird that was good eating, but there was something wrong. He looked at the scraps that were left, then he saw it, the legs were the wrong colour!

He scrabbled around for what hadn’t been eaten, the head, wing, legs and feathers, but it was enough, it was a new species. In London they were impressed, perhaps this young man would make other discoveries, now they would honour him by calling it – Darwin’s Rhea!

All I have done is retold the account that Darwin gave of how he discovered Darwin’s Rhea.

###

My Biscuit by Michael

It starts with a cup of self-raising flour, two cups of rolled oats, butter, an egg, a teaspoon of both cinnamon and ginger, throw in some apple sauce and away you go.

My comfort food. Baked for twelve minutes they have become a food I enjoy several times a day.

As a part of my diet, I take them wherever I go, packed in a sandwich bag, stowed in my trusty cooler I can devour them at any given time. In summer, they are best eaten frozen, in fact as I write this I am happily munching on one.

###

Kitchen Healing by Lisa Listwa

“What’s for dinner?” I asked, mounting the yellow Cosco stool in the corner of the kitchen.

“Tuna casserole. Bad day?” chop chop She always knew.

“Yeah.”

“You’ll have more.” Her eyes never left the cutting board, but her attention was fully on me.

I felt tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. “I think I’m having my first heartbreak,” I croaked.

She smiled gently. chop chop chop “You’ll have more.”

Our meal was simple – poor food some call it – but filled with love. It helped and it healed. And of love, we would always have more.

###

Comfort Food by Geoff Le Pard

‘Did you have rationing, mum?’

Mary laughed. ‘How old do you think I am?’

‘Soz mum. It’s a school project.’

‘Your grandad said he saw his first banana when 9 and tried to eat the skin.’

‘Was it awful? Did he starve?’

‘Some say people were healthier. Not much sugar for starters. He hated whale meet, though.’

‘I bet he was pleased when it ended.’

‘It was then he found his comfort food. Bread and dripping.’

‘What’s that?’

‘A slice of bread wiped round a roasting tin, soaks up the fat and meat juices.’

Penny’s face was a picture.

###

Fruit Salad by Norah Colvin

Billy barely paused to say, “Hi, Mum,” as he tossed her a piece of paper and kept going.

The back door slammed, startling Baby. ‘In one door and out the other,” Mum said, as Dad appeared. “What’s he up to?”

Dad watched from the window as Billy took pebbles from the garden, inspected them carefully, then arranged them in neat piles.

“Strange,” said Dad. “I don’t know. He seems to be looking for something. Said they’re making fruit salad at school tomorrow.”

Mum read the note he’d tossed at her, then smiled.

“He’s to take stone fruit,” she said.

###

Normal Tastes (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Tobasco Sauce?” Danni sat down with Michael and sprinkled her eggs liberally.

“I tasted it once on raw oysters, and it was not pleasant. Might have been the oysters, though.”

“I love fried oysters. If we ever ate out as a kid, we’d go to the Red Lion in Elko. I’d have liver and onions or fried oysters.”

“No hamburger and fries like a normal kid?”

“Nope, but if I’m to eat slimy things I like them peppered, breaded and fried.”

“Hmm.” Michael sprinkled two dots of sauce on his eggs. “Not sure I like food that bites back.”

###

Comfort Food by Hugh W. Roberts

“Strawberry cheesecake ice cream? A family sized fruit and nut chocolate bar? Iced-coconut sponge? What the heck is going on, Simon?”

“Comfort, you said, so I got you some of your favourite comfort foods. I thought the popcorn would bring back memories of our first date. These will all make you feel better. Oh, there’s one more thing.”

Julia rummaged around the shopping bag, hoping he’d got her what she wanted.

“Hot-cross buns? Are you kidding me? When I said comfort, I meant something I could put on my piles so I could sit down and be more comfortable!”

###

How Far Was Far Enough? by Jules Paige

Janice didn’t like the rotten masquerade of life she had with
the man Richard; who always had a visible whitewash type
pastey sheen about him. Often singing in bedlam, an odd
smatter of a narrow genre – briefly, because it also lead to
him quarreling about the price of just about everything.
Janet had to scramble to quelch any argument – with a good
homemade meal.

The insect on her computer keyboard reminded her of a
tsetse fly. That last dinner she served Richard before running –
it was tainted with enough potion to keep a bull elephant
asleep for a week.

###

Gone Fishing by Sarah Brentyn

“This is boring,” Caleb whined.

“It’s father-son bonding. It’s fun.” He wiped sweat from his forehead. “It’s…hot.”

“Something we agree on,” Caleb mumbled. “Can we go now?”

“I’ve got the boat until two.” His father sighed. “Crap. This is boring.”

“Race?” Caleb stood, pulling off his t-shirt.

His father dove into the water. “Head start for the old man!”

She rose from the waves. Glorious and horrible. Eyes gleaming, hair spilling over her breasts.

“Dad!”

“Aw, c’mon…” He splashed Caleb.

“Get back here! Swim back…now!”

She smiled at Caleb, her mouth rows of shark teeth. “Fear. My comfort food.”

###

Burnspots by Elliott Lyngreen

Sneak the narrow path between the neighbor’s garages as a squirrel crashes off branches to triplex above.

Another squeezes hiding behind space under the shredded portion of tarp that meets the old garage slab; where the disease-ridden boat sits.

While a different cousin crouches up the jutted back of the kitchen; I am slinking past its open back door, that warm aroma – burnspots of homemade tortillas.

I see another cousin duck into the broken bricks, gapped, behind shriveled yews, hear his palm slap the chalky capstone off the front porch; and shout limitless to the curbless sideroads, “JAIL-BREAAAAAKK!!!”

###

Comfort Food by 40levenreasons

“He’s going to be alright.”

As the tears continue to flow down my cheeks, these words hold little comfort.

The young man laying beside me, hooked up to countless machines, is my son.

I feel an arm around me. Someone’s comforting me.

I hear voices.

Someone’s talking to me.

I smile and nod, but the tears continue to flow and I pray another silent prayer.

It all seems a blur now. An indescribable nightmare.

His rhythmic breathing, a reminder that prayers are sometimes answered and as he sleeps, I eat. Hospital food has never tasted so good, so comforting.

###

Heart Attack by Diana Nagai

“Your father’s had a heart attack.”

I processed my mother’s words. “We’ll meet you at the hospital.” I skipped showering but, after a tormented debate, we picked up the food we ordered minutes ago.

The pragmatic doctor told us that while my father was alive and resting, the next 24 hours were critical.  Family and friends, who were with him when 911 was called, had nothing more to do but wait. While my father received nourishment through tubes, we huddled around the cold pizza box. What was once comfort food had become rubbery sustenance. We ate in weary silence.

###

Comfort Food by Kate Spencer

Carrie sank deeper into the armchair and sighed. “Granny, being here feels like a heaping bowl o’ comfort food. Why is that? ”

Granny sipped her tea and smiled knowingly.

“The recipe is quite simple really. I’ll teach it to you. You take a heap of patience, a gallon of understanding and an armful of hugs. Add large cozy chairs, soft cuddly comforters and freshly baked cinnamon rolls. Mix it all with a load of love, a dash of faith and barrels of laughter. Stir in kindness, hope and forgiveness. And your home becomes comfort food for the soul.”

###

Mac N Cheese by Susan Zutautas

The day at school had not been that great for Brenda. The bully in her class decided to pick on her for some stupid reason.

Walking home in the cold damp rain, chilled her to the bone, and she couldn’t wait to get home.

As Brenda opened the door the sweet aroma she knew oh so well, coming from the kitchen, put a smile on her face. Warmth returned and the day was forgotten. Grandma had made homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner.

How could she have forgotten? This after all was traditionally made on Thursdays. Life was grand.

###

Comfort Food by Irene Waters

“Mum, cook something different? Soup and casseroles are so passé.”

“Because it isn’t what is needed.”

“I’m sure they’d prefer some tappas. Some fried green spanish olives and perhaps beetroot, fetta and sweet potato empanadas with chimichurri.”

“No. Pumpkin soup and chicken casserole like I always do. Not because I always do it but because it is needed.”

“Mum you have no idea!” Jenny stormed off shaking her head.

******

Jenny shook her head with disbelief. Her Mum gone.

“Here darling. Have some warm orange and thyme olives.” Aunt Meredith held out the tray.

“No, I need Mum’s comfort food.”

###

Resurrections by D. Avery

There are still mason jars filled with sweet pickles, and dill beans; jars of raspberry and blackberry jelly, apple-butter. The potato bin is at the last board, but there should be plenty.

With spindly white sprouts, the potatoes feel about for spring. The sprouts are rubbed off. They need to feed us a little longer before the leftovers can go back into the ground.

The ice isn’t yet out in the lake, though peepers are singing in the beaver meadow. Soon there will be fiddleheads and wild onions, then cattail greens.

Soon enough there will be freshly dug potatoes.

###

Consuming Compassion by Kerry E.B. Black

Janie Higgins rarely got sick, yet Wednesday she woke from feverish dreams, shivering in the summer heat. She rolled into a ball and groaned.
Her mother nestled her beneath Great-Grandma Leslie’s quilt. “You’re not going to camp today, young lady.”

Jane whispered a protest, but her mother stroked her sweaty hair and hummed her to sleep.

When Jane woke, her mother presented a tray with creamed eggs on toast and steaming, honey-laden tea. She propped Jane up on pillows and read poetry to her.

“Yum, Mom.” One of six children, Jane consumed her mother’s attention and compassion with appreciation.

###

Soup by Allison Maruska

I crumble six crackers into the bowl. Six crackers per ladle, just like Mom used to make.

Steam rises off the red liquid as I pour it. A stray drip hits my glove. I wipe it on my blanket.

I carry my bowl to the sofa and peek outside, trading heat for daylight. Snow covers the ruins. Brisk air blows through the broken pane.

I drop the window covering and hold my bowl near my face. The warmth and smell take me back. Laughter echoes in my memory.

Shaking, I take a spoonful.

Just like Mom used to make.

###

Whatever Works (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“You look like you’ve had a tough day,” the librarian says kindly. “Go home and have some comfort food.”

Oh, yes. Her mother’s macaroni casserole, or pot roast…how long since they’ve even spoken? No, anything from Mom is not possible. There’s scrambled eggs and toast, or a hot turkey sandwich with gravy, or a pot of soup simmering. Make the house smell good. But those take money she can’t spare, or a kitchen she doesn’t have, or both.

The 7-11 is right next door. “One Hostess cupcake, one Pepsi,” the clerk says cheerfully. “Anything else?”

One makes do.

###

Comfort Food by Kalpana Solsi

Spreading his ample bottom on the cushioned chair, his gaze caressed the colorful bowl.

The taste buds tickled and saliva lubricated the cave of his mouth.

The smile widened to form wrinkles at the corner of his spectacled eyes.

The unsteady shivering hand brought the spoonful close and the dentures chomped away greedily the crisp bell peppers and lettuce.

The slightly chilled yogurt dressing brought solace to his mouth ulcers.

“Comfort food”, he uttered under his breath, his companion for the past six decades.

And so is the constipation, a faithful shadow.

The salad bowl was licked clean.

Contented.

###

Chocolate Cake Dreams by Anne Goodwin

From dreams of chocolate cake and gingerbread she tiptoed downstairs. She conjured slender sleek-haired schoolgirls as she beat sugar into eggs. While it cooked, she sipped from her water glass and jogged on the spot. Once done, she snapped the cake for Instagram before scraping it into the trash.

Her mother, hair wet from the shower, cheeks wet from tears. “It’s an illness, darling. You can’t go on like this.”

She should’ve waited till she’d left for work. She should’ve thought about the smell. But baking cakes was her only comfort. Eating them her only fear.

###

Molten Lava by Reena Saxena

Mona weighed herself for the third time on that day. The gain of twenty pounds was not likely to vanish soon.

Just like the never-ending problems in her life. Food was faithful, food was not fickle. It never failed to satisfy, unlike human beings. She had found solace in the brown molten mass of chocolate desserts since childhood. The background score had changed from her mother’s rants to her husband’s violent outbursts.

She loved the spike in serotonin and dopamine levels, more than the shape of her body. The scales would continue to groan for some time to come.

###

“Meatloaf” by Pete Fanning

Thanks to Mom I was probably the healthiest kid in the seventh grade. And thanks to her genetics, I was also one of the shortest. But tonight’s meal was hardcore, even for her.

The blue rectangular dish meant only one thing. A pulsing sponge of wet cardboard held together by carrots, red onions, asparagus, bell peppers. A gathering of yuck. Calling it meatloaf was false advertising.

I reached for the ketchup. Mom spooned a pile of lima beans and I began to protest. Then she went for the nukes.

“I can heat up the Brussel sprouts if you’d like?”

###

Wrangling by D. Avery

“Whoa there, Kid.”

“Guess I’m anxious to git ’em to the Ranch.”

“You’ll git ‘em all there in good shape. Just watch for strays.”

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Shorty was busy at her chuckwagon. Shorty, who was of great stature, preferred the wagon to the cookhouse, liked to have her wheels ready to roll.

Shorty congratulated and cajoled the hands as they rode in from near and distant ranges. She noted the herd amassing in the corral, some branded, some a bit wild and unpredictable.

Hungry for Shorty’s nourishing comfort food, the hands hung around the chuckwagon.

“Carrots!”

###

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5 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    comfort food round-up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Norah says:

    What a great collection of comfort foods – from a variety of perspectives and points of view. It was good to catch up with them all here, Charli, including a few I’d missed. Thanks for the challenge and the compilation.

    Like

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