Comfort food is food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone, and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation. The nostalgia may be specific to an individual, or it may apply to a specific culture. – Wikipedia
The pandemic sent many of us in search of comfort food. Some of it was actual food, a plate of French fries, a banana split. Some of it was food for the mind, a favorite movie or book, or good a conversation. Some of it was food for the spirit, a walk in the woods, swimming in saltwater at a forgotten beach.
The social media were filled with conversations about comfort food, edible and otherwise. People compared notes, despaired over what wasn’t available (restaurants, pubs, movies). Described what worked for them, complimented others who confessed their new guilty pleasures. And generally found ways to be together while they were physically far apart.
As a typical introverted writer, the seclusion didn’t bother me. Send me a bottle of Zinfandel and a good book, and I have all the “comfort food” I need. Our cats provided comfort–whenever they felt like it. And my wife and I had fun ending our evenings with a YouTube episode of the show “What’s My Line?” We saw many of those growing up and though they’re very dated compared with, say, Rob Low’s “Mental Samurai,” they met our definition of comfort food.
Through poetry, essays, and first-person stories, pandemic people often spoke of the power they discovered (or re-discovered) of solitary pursuits. They found they could be alone without being lonely and saw that there was a great power in that. Sitting on a front porch beneath a sparkling night sky. Walking–anywhere–but nowhere in particular. Listening to music after shutting off their cellphones. Meditating one way or another. For some, the beauty of this was a revelation; for others, it was a return to the less-hectic days before they were ensnared by the commuting/9-5 job where the office was often more home than home.
As people become vaccinated and various restrictions are relaxed and the trappings of our pre-COVID lives are available again, I hope we will remember what we discovered about alone time, how freeing and renewing it can be. The pandemic has taught us many lessons. The power of being alone is one of them.
Malcolm R. Campbell
Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing