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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Urban Living Finds Comfort in Food

What exactly is comfort food? It actually has different meanings to different people but it sure must have the same effect which is to bring comfort by eating a certain kind of food. Being comforted brings out a positive feeling, which is what you get every time you have a taste of a particular food. This is the reason why you crave for it and eat it.

Here are the 4 Classifications of Comfort Foods according to Wikipedia (with my own interpretations, of course):

1. Nostalgic Comfort Food - these are the food that remind you of the good old days like the ones cooked by your mom or a person very special to you.  It could also be a food that defines you cultural background.
I no longer live with my oldies so I don't get to taste home cooked food as often as... everyday. My mom doesn't always do the cooking, in fact my dad seems to cook more often than her but I would know from the taste who prepared lunch or dinner between the two even if was blindfolded. They each have their own signature tastes for their recipes.They say if you ever get lost and forget who you are and don't like who you've become, trace your way back home to find your old self. Whenever I get a compulsion to ease my emotional state I go back to have a taste of home. 

My Favorite Nostalgic Comfort Food by mom:
Sinigang na Baboy sa Miso (Pork and Vegetables Sour Soup with Miso) 
Miso is a fermented paste of soybeans and rice. This ingredient is mixed to the soup to make it thicker. Usually the miso is used for Fish Sinigang but my mom's Pork Sinigang always have this ingredient thus making it different from others' version. The Sinigang, although classified as a soup is served as a main dish. My mom's is almost like pinakbet (another popular Filipino comfort food originally by the Ilokanos and Pangasineses) with the many vegetables she puts in such as Gabi (Taro root crop), radish, swamp cabbage, eggplant, okra and string beans. Her signature concoction is really very sour which is how I like it and spicy too with around 4-5 siling haba (finger chilis). Sinigang is a tamarind based soup and she uses Knorr Sinigang Mix to keep the right sourness that I like.  I think my Pork Sinigang sa Miso exactly tastes like hers but still, it's a lot better and more comforting if it came from her pot! :)
My Favorite Nostalgic Comfort Food by Dad:
Chicken Adobo
I think any Filipino who cooks would boast of his or her own version of the famous Adobo. My dad's Chicken Adobo however, do not only have a signature taste, it even has it's own distinctive smell that makes my tummy growl once it emanates from the kitchen haha. Not everyone who tried it would agree that it's the best tasting Adobo, but it's how Chiken Adobo should be for me (talk about acquired taste LOL!). It's a little runny and soupy unlike other versions that are oily and almost dry, like mine. By the way, it also has it's unique and distinctive color that is exactly the same shade of  a strong cup of coffee with lots of creamer (My adobo is really black! I really wonder how he does that. He doesn't even use oyster sauce, just the usual Datu Puti Soy Sauce and  I don't think he uses flour either.) The chicken is also fall-off-the-bone-soft (literally), but I guess the real secret is in the amount of vinegar that he puts and also the timing when to pour it in. Which I can never guess because he does not use any measuring tool! I think I'll go visit them this week end and request for chiken adobo ala dad to have my much needed comforting hehe.

 2. Indulgence Comfort Food - Food are supposed to be for nourishment and of course, pleasure too. But indulging in any kind for comfort is really not healthy.
Some are indulgent on chocolates, chips or ice cream but mine is really sinfully good I sometimes fall into a real indulgence... Oh Lord!
It's Lapid's Chicharon with laman (deep fried and freshly popped pork rinds of about an inch thick!). Oooh, it's just so good not to dig in and dip in the vinegar! I can finish the biggest pack all by myself with rice! They have many branches and even food carts in malls but the best Lapid's Chicharon you can buy is from their White Plains Q.C. Branch where they cook while you wait and salivate, then pack it hot to melt in your mouth.
3. Convenience Comfort Food - These are readily prepared food that can be easily consumed like those you can order in fast food restaurants or order for fast delivery. These are also food that can be stored in the refrigerator and could be eaten cold, like my favorite Nestle's Fruit Selection Yogurt or those you could just toss inside the microwave for 3-5 minutes heating. This type also includes no cook canned goods and easy to fry processed food.
The urban lifestyle propelled the preference for Convenient Comfort Food. People are busy and lack time to cook for themselves and so find comfort in buying instant food or fast food. I too am guilty of sometimes not cooking for myself at all not only during weekdays but the whole week! Tsk!
On weekdays I usually eat from breakfast to dinner wherever near my office or wherever I am, more often in fast food restaurants which is of course more economical. If you eat a lot in fast food restaurants, use disposable utensils to avoid contracting any disease. When my schedule won't really allow me to cook, I still try to have a balance diet by ordering a healthy combination of meals.
My example of a typical weekday diet: Beef tapa, egg, fried rice and coffee for breakfast at Jollibee. For lunch I will opt for a restaurant that offers vegetables in their menu, like KFC's Garden Salad or the Oriental Salad 'though I'd really would love their Fully Loaded Meal that goes with mushroom soup and a brownie hehe. I just hope I could also resist the Strawberry Lush (Milk and Yogurt Smoothies with real strawberry bits) which rarely happens because it's my KFC favorite! For dinner, if it's already late and I'm too tired I could go home to my Magnolia Cheezee Sandwich (ooh so exciting!*eyes roll*), or I could stop by Dunkin' Donuts to grab a Tuna Sandwich.
So there, I had my beef, veggies, fish and fruit for the day. My mom would be so proud of me! *clap, clap* Notice also that in my example, I had a full heavy meal for breakfast, low carb meal for lunch and a very light dinner. I also try to avoid (depends on peer pressure during break time haha) in between snacks except for my daily doses of coffee.
Friday is usually my Grocery day, but sometimes I just want to oversleep during weekends and not worry about cooking so I'll just buy my favorite easy to fry food like CDO tocino, Purefoods Hotdogs, Monterey's Sisig or no cook canned goods like Century Tuna in oil and Hunts Pork and Beans. But when I'm in the mood, I'd  cook different meals for the whole week and stock it in my freezer for microwaving during weekdays. I also prepare different sandwich fillings with Lady's Choice Mayonnaise like chicken, tuna and egg or just buy ready to spread strawberry jam, peanut butter and my favorite Magnolia Cheezee Pimiento. I always stock up 3 different sandwich fillings so that I won't easily lose appetite by merely thinking about the dinner waiting for me at home.

4. Physical Comfort Food - These are medically prepared supplemental food usually in capsules that I find comfort in taking to provide for the right daily amount of nutrients that my body needs and compensate for any deficiency from my regular diet .
In the fast world we live in, it seems the adage "Time is Gold" holds true. This is applicable even for farm produce such as vegetables, poultry and other meat products. The use of boosters such as fertilizers and other chemicals to speed up growth and maturity of the farm produce for a much earlier and more abundant yield, save on time and subsequently increase profit. But going "all-natural" or "organic" is the world wide trend right now due to many studies of harmful effects brought about by consuming these artificially manipulated harvests, such as the Big C (cancer).
Even so, many could still not help but patronize processed food, like myself. To counter balance the effect of Convenience Comfort Food, many rely on Physical Comfort Food as a dietary supplement.Which for me is a good alternative than none at all! Make sure however that your food supplements are safe by checking if it passed the regulatory testings and accepted standards set by the authorities such as the Burueu of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD).
Check out my list of daily Physical Comfort Food:
 1. Vitamin C 500 mg. - twice daily
 2. Mulitvitamins and Minerals - once a day
3. Vitamin E - Once daily
4. Vitamin B Complex - Once daily
So, those are my comfort foods! What's yours?


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