TV dinner. 1968. Pregnant with Danielle, my first child. Villa Park, Illinois. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce, to be exact. My husband walked across the street to buy them, on-demand, whenever I needed one during those first three months. Convenience stores were just coming on strong.
Comfort food wasn't a term then, something that I would seek out from my past that would comfort me in the present. Sliced bananas, sprinkled with sugar and milk poured over or the forever nightly popcorn ritual.
Today, hardly any of the foods from my past comfort me. My diet has so radically changed. I can barely eat out. I only want the home cooked meal's Larry and I prepare. Last night he made a tomato sauce and served it over spaghetti squash. I invented a new recipe for garlic green beans, blanching them first before roasting them on a cookie sheet with chopped garlic and olive oil. Our salad was mixed greens with a garlic, olive oil and lemon dressing. I have tried many times to churn up past comfort from my mother's spaghetti and meatball recipe she learned from Italian friends when we lived on Tachikawa Air Force Base in Japan. I can duplicate it very well and serve it with canned green beans and head lettuce salad with bottled French dressing like she did. It's just not as good as what Larry and I made last night. The colors are the same, the red and green, and the texture.
The comfort that is carried over, however, is the comfort of homemade and eating at home, at a pleasantly set table. Growing up, we never ate out. Really. I do not have a single memory of eating in a restaurant. Even road trip meals were served on picnic tables at rest stops. The comfort I seek is not in the finished dish, it is in the experience of creation.