#reverb10, day 26: Soul Food

Today’s — hey, it may be the 27th where I am, but it’s still the 26th according to the server — prompt:

Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

Honestly? Everything. I’m slightly more than half Italian, and was raised in Louisiana, a family in which the equation between food and love was inescapable. Food is what we celebrate with, what we mourn with, what we console ourselves with.

As a result, we struggle with all the diet-related health problems, but we’re awfully happy.

In the spirit of the question, though, I could recount a few really extraordinary meals here — such as my pal Shhh’s utterly astonishing Thanksgiving feast — but for better or for worse, the things I eat that most “touch my soul” (and yes, I am trying not to wince) are comfort foods. And for me, comfort foods are those that achieve the perfect balance of carbs, fat, and salt, in a warm, creamy mixture.

Macaroni and cheese tops the list. Really good mashed potatoes are not far behind.

When it comes to these foods, some part of me will forever be eight years old. And given that I live mostly alone, responsible for no one’s eating other than my own, I fall back on these comfort foods more often than I’d like to admit. Especially when I’m stressed out, or unhappy, or lonely, or whathaveyou.

So be it. I try to eat as well as I can as much as I can, so that I can let myself indulge when I like. I’ve been blessed with good genes — the women in my mother’s family live very long lives, untroubled by high cholesterol or blood pressure — and my natural impulse is in general toward a fruit and vegetable and whole-grain oriented diet, so I’m just not going to sweat my mac-and-cheese addiction. It could be worse, and it makes me happy. Which is all anyone could ask for, I suppose.

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