How to Cure Homesickness: Comfort Food
It’s an odd title for a foodie section but it makes sense.
Food is adventurous, mysterious, & has the ability to transport you to far off places. Usually, food takes me back to when I was a kid. The colors and flavours are undeniably vivid and rich, and I feel at home.
A big part of traveling is trying the food of your new location- whether that’s going to Louisiana or Galicia. In the novelty of travel, the honeymoon phase, everything tastes delicious. I was lucky enough to have “casera”, traditional, homemade, food. My school director and her husband made some of the specialties of Galician cooking, like Pulpo (octopus) with boiled potatoes, empanadas de zorza (it’s pork), fried green pimientos (this reminded me so much of home, because Gujarati cuisine has a similar recipe but with thin, green chillis), of course Paella, and so much more.
They were extremely accommodating. They made me breakfast even though it’s not part of their daily routine, including fried egg and toast with yoghurt and fresh-squeezed orange juice. They also didn’t make any “carne”, specifically referring to cow meat. I didn’t feel homesick at all. They are also some of the best hosts I have ever met.
When you travel, you explore. You learn how others live and that includes how they eat. But after the novelty wears off, and you’re settled down, it’s only natural for you to start feeling homesick. Or at least that’s what happened to me.
I found a “piso” (flat/apartment) and my first night here, I felt the pangs of homesickness. My dad was a 15 minute walk away and I still felt far away from home. I think I’ve felt this way, homeless/homesick, since I moved to start university at Chapel Hill. I was always in the process of moving- back and forth to a new building and back to my parents’ place.
Since I get easily attached, I started deconstructing what it meant to me, when I felt “at home.” This is extremely important because I plan on moving around a lot, for work and for myself and to see family and friends. Ideally, I would have a setup like The Doctor- he lives in his TARDIS. But I don’t have access to anything like that. Plus, it’s still something physical.
Home to me means
1. The people
2. Familiarity with surroundings
3. Knowing where to get groceries
4. Waking up to a noisy kitchen on the weekend mornings because someone is making breakfast
5. Belonging and not having to try
I think you can cultivate that anywhere you go. I think that is what I have been trying to do for the past year. I feel homesick easily but it takes just a minute to myself or a message from my folks asking if I’ve eaten food to remind me that the support network and #5 always are always there.
Anyways, today, after feeling a little homesick than usual (thank you Rainy city and cloudy skies), I cooked food. I had a lot of leftover bits and used this to make the food. So you don’t need to go make an errand to the grocery store- whatever veggies you like and have lying around and you need to use up, toss ’em in and voila- comfort food.
Here is the recipe for Chunky Tomato, Zucchini, Onion Soup.
Serving size: 1
4 small red tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 a small white/red onion, chopped roughly
1/4 zucchini chopped roughly (can use any other veggie)
1 garlic clove, grate as much as you like
Salt & pepper for seasoning
A dash of sugar
2 Bread slices toasted (as many as you’d like, sourdough, rye, French)
Remaining garlic clove, also grate that
1/4 stick butter
I didn’t have tomato purée so you could probably bypass all this if you just get it. But I liked the consistency of the soup because it was filling
1. Fill a pot with water, almost to the top. Remove the 1/4 stick butter in a bowl.
2. Add sliced tomatoes into water and boil for 15 mins, until tomato skin is wrinkly.
3. While the tomatoes are boiling, pour some olive oil in a pan and wait till it heats.
4. Add chopped onions, then zucchini (veggie). Let it cook until soft.
5. Add salt to veggies.
6. Once boiled, the tomatoes should be drained. You can remove the peel & the seeds. I did not.
7. Mush the tomatoes until it becomes chunky and pureé-ish. I also used a hand mixer to get a more even consistency.
8. In the pot with mushed tomatoes, add the grated garlic as you heat up the mixture.
9. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste. You may also add other herbs.
10. Add the sautéed veggies to the tomato mix and heat up until you like the taste.
11. Toast the bread
12. While bread is toasting, the butter stick left out should be more malleable.
13. Add the grated garlic to the butter and mix till the garlic is evenly spread out. If you like herbs, you may add it to the butter.
14. Apply the garlic butter to the toast when ready.
Serve warm and enjoy while in your comfiest pajamas! So if you try this, please let me know and post a picture!
Or, another alternative is to find your nearest Domino’s.