For many of us, the past few weeks have been all about hunkering down inside and ignoring the freezing world outside. Doing things like finding a warm place on the couch to curl up with a blanket and a book or movie. Cooking hearty food that warms your kitchen, belly, and soul. Putting the kettle on. Cuddling up with the one you adore. Putting the extra fuzzy slippers to good use.
This state of mind has got me thinking about all the simple comforts of home – food and beverages in particular. They can bring us so much comfort. A hot cup of coffee on an early morning. A warm meal waiting after a cold commute home. A cold beer at the end of a hot sticky day. A cup of tea in the afternoon just when you’re starting to feel a bit snoozy. A delicious cup of hot cocoa after being out in the snow. It’s easy to take these things for granted, but I think it’s important to try to take a moment to feel grateful for them. It’s so nice to have these simple pleasures in life. So many people do not.
This passage from Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin always comes to mind when I think of food’s comforting effect. It’s a beautiful description of a serene and cozy moment, and a reminder that we don’t need very much to bring comfort into our lives.
Soup has come to symbolize the ultimate in comfort and safety. Many years ago, when I was about fifteen, I saw someone served a cup of soup, and this vision, which had all the sentimental charm of a painting by Sir Edwin Landseer, is indelibly imprinted on my mind. It was a cold, rainy autumn night and some grubby teenagers had gathered at a friend’s rather splendid house. We heard the crunch of a car on gravel. A taxi pulled up and into the wet night stepped the friend’s older sister, who was coming home from college for the weekend. She was probably nineteen but she looked like the picture of sophistication. She wore brown pumps, a green tweed suit, pearl earrings and her hair was pulled back in a French twist. She took off her wet coat, sat down in front of the fire and her mother brought her a large, ornamental bone china cup of soup. She warmed her hands on the cup and then she set it on its saucer, balanced it on her lap and ate the soup with a bouillon spoon. The dog, a weimaraner, lay dozing at her feet. Outside the rain clattered. Inside that pretty living room was all safe. Of course you need not have a weimaraner or a fire or anyone coming home from college. To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.
Laurie Colwin was taken from us far too soon, she passed away in 1992 at only 48. But she left us a number of completely delightful books, my favorites of which are Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen and More Home Cooking. I recommend them to anyone looking for comfort in the simple things this winter.