One of my greatest pleasures on a Sunday afternoon is cracking open a freshly baked baguette and smelling the steam as it curls out of the fluffy, white interior. I feel an almost zen-like contentment in seeing a whole pat of butter dissolving into the hot bread as it slowly melts.
My mother, a true devotee of the holy bread, imparted this love of all things crusty in me since I could hold a bread knife. “Pre-sliced grocery bread? I think not!” she would sniff as she sawed away lovingly at some multi-grained monstrosity of a loaf. There was nothing for me to do but the pleasant activity of nibbling on the seeds that had dislodged from the crust.
This is what comfort food means to me: familiarity, homeyness and contentment. And because my idea of familiarity was so tempered by my mother, I wondered if people on the other side of the globe had radically different notions of familiarity and homeyness that were shaped by their various cultures and cuisines.
So I posed a very simple question to friends and friends of friends around the world. Here are a few of the responses:
What surprised me was the uniformity of responses. Essentially, I was hearing this:
My bread-loving mother would approve.