In defence of comfort foods

Rachel Rees Middleton 7 November 2016

Since being set my first essay of the year, the foods I turn to for comfort have become painstakingly apparent. From where I currently sit – in the middle of my bed, immovable for all intents and purposes – I can see two half-eaten packets of chocolate biscuits and three empty packets of Pom-Bears. Poking out of my bin is the box my McNuggets came in the other night. A bottle of squash sits on my shelf, begging to be taken to the kitchen so I can boil the kettle and transport myself to sweet squashy paradise. Hidden in my desk drawer are bags of fruit: oranges, apples, and nectarines. My mum bought them for me when she came to visit about a week ago, and I try not to think about them too much.

The fact is that I love food (food — not fruit), and when the cold starts to set in and the work starts piling up, I find it one of the most rewarding means of procrastination, as well as helpful in alleviating some of the self-pity that increases in tandem with my sneeze-count. In my experience, it is much nicer to be drowning in chocolate wrappers than tissues — or, at least, for the mountain of Kleenex to be liberally interspersed with evidence of my love affair with Cadbury.

Food is also the easiest way to stay on top of that prevailing ‘treat yo self’ mindset. Are your running nose, lacklustre word-count, blocked ears, struggling bibliography collectively getting you down? Then, for the love of loyalty cards, buy a sandwich from Pret. Cycle to Sainsbury's just before it shuts to get a massive box of heavily discounted donuts. Wrap your tired hands, chapped from the biting Cambridge winds, around a mug of soup. I promise the world will start looking just a little bit cosier if you do.

Lately, thanks to living next door to the heir of an egg farm (seriously), my kitchen has been readily stocked with a free-ranged, double-yolked, heaven-sent clutch of goodness. Mostly for the sake of convenience, but also just for the sake of its own glorious self, this has been my most recent comfort-food go-to. I have learnt how to soft boil an egg to the point of absolute perfection, where it is almost as if I’m back at home on a sleepy Sunday, still in my PJs, only suggesting that I make my own breakfast because I know my dad isn’t going to take me up on the offer. I’m aware that there’s nothing particularly glamorous about a meal that leaves your hands covered in crumbs, yolk, and bits of shell, but the food that makes me really happy isn’t the kind of stuff that gets dished up at formal. It’s the toasty, homey, warm things, which in their simple niceness, almost make you forget that you should really be drinking some Lemsip on the side.