“Comfort food is really anything you want at that time.” Geoffrey Zakarian
“I want comfort food!” my wife exclaims.
As a dutiful husband of a lovely woman who is seven and-a-half months pregnant, I leap into action.
“All right, Baby. What would you like? Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, stew, fried chicken?” I ask, trying to narrow down the choices.
After all, comfort food is a broad category. Already, I’m worried that the food won’t be the right temperature when I get home. Comfort food is only good when it’s piping hot, and they’re aren’t a lot of places around our house serving meat loaf.
Laura pauses for a minute and says, “I want Thai food!”
I pause for a moment, and try to recall what she originally said. She did say she wanted comfort food, right?
“I’m sorry, Baby? What did you say you wanted?” patience oozes out of my mouth.
“I want Curry!” She states matter-of-factly.
I’m out the door and off to our favorite Thai restaurant, asking myself: Did my wife grow up in Asia? Is there a part of her life that I don’t know about? Does one of us have a gross misunderstanding of the definition of comfort food? If so, I’ll assume it’s me who is wrong. It’s the right thing to do when the wifey is pregnant.
This exchange got me thinking about not only how we define comfort food, but how to define comfort music. I would assume that most people define comfort food as something that makes them feel good, reminds them of their childhood, and probably was something homemade by Mom or Dad. Which is why my wife’s categorization of Curry has comfort food perplexed me (I fact-checked this by asking my mother-in-law if they ate a lot of curry growing up. She assured me, they did not.).
Comfort music should probably be defined fairly similarly: music that makes you feel good, reminds you of your childhood, and was probably introduced to you by one of your parents. The artist that best fits that description for me is Eric Clapton.
I spent several Saturday afternoons listening to Clapton, usually while doing chores or while Dad made tortillas. The warm sounds of a record crackling as it plays “Layla” pepper my memories. For a pretty great live version, check this out.
Then, when I heard the unplugged version of “Layla” years later, I was floored. How could someone re-imagine the same song so differently? While the song has completely changed, it still captures the same anguish of an unrequited love that the first one so greatly articulates.
I didn’t know what it felt like to be in love when I first heard “Wonderful Tonight”, but that song taught me what it sounded like. The way the notes in the iconic riff melt into each other is the way days should melt into weeks and months should melt into years when you’re with someone you love. For a great live clip of that song, go here.
I wish I could say that my guitar playing style is mostly based on Jimi Hendrix or Van Halen, but whether it’s acoustic or electric guitar, I have to give the nod to “Slowhand”.
I’m pairing my comfort artist with a beer reminiscent of my favorite comfort dessert: The Pecan Pie Porter brewed by Clown Shoes Beer Company. The Pecan flavor in this beer begins subtly, but as the beer warms it begins to shine through. There is also some added sweetness from honey malts used in the brewing process. The honey malt mimics the syrup of a pecan pie nicely. Notes of vanilla in the nose and finish balance out the beer. Much like Slowhand himself, this beer doesn’t have in-your-face flavors, but it’s subtleness stays with you, filling in the gaps inside you that you didn’t even know were there.
So over the winter months, find your own comfort music or food and pour yourself a Pecan Pie Porter.
Cheers! Prosit! Salud!