Raw V Burnt

What makes a food a comfort food?   Of course the food itself varies
from person to person and place to place but the sense of comfort it
delivers is pretty universal.  It conjures up feelings of homeliness
and security, and can offer temporary relief from anxiety, heartache
and hangover. Burnt toast is  like my own personal Rescue Remedy,
although with a slightly more carcinogenic side affect. This, like my
other cannon of favourites, mashed potatoes,fried eggs,baked beans etc
comes from my mid eighties childhood. Saturday mornings me and my
sisters would be left to fend for ourselves for a couple of hours. A
brief respite from the strictly regimented meal times in our home.
Lolling in front of the telly and forgetting all about bread left
under the grill until it had long passed the golden brown stage. Focus
only returning when smoke and the smell of burning wafted from the
kitchen to the living room. Then of course not wanting to waste
precious moments of Anything Goes redoing or scraping off the burnt
bits burnt, blackened bread was duly consumed. Over time this became
and still is the much preferred form.

Moving on a few years from here into my later teens and the first
dabbling with vegetarianism. In its infancy merely a Morrisey inspired
affectation and nothing to do with the moral and health choice of my
adult self. The dietary naivety of youth brought me down a path paved
solely with aforementioned comfort foods along with a host of other
convenience unsavouries. I could easily have faded away from scurvy or
some other malnourishment had I not landed my first ever restaurant
job in Cranks Vegetarian Restaurant and take away in Covent Garden
London. Here I was introduced to an array of vegetarian
exotica,mushroom lasagna,potato pie,spinach pizza and soups both hot
and cold of the most outlandish flavour combinations. It was also here
that I learned about whole foods, organic foods and the relationship
between food and health. It didnt change my life or convert me in any
way at the time but it did educate and stimulate me enough to allow my
mind to open to the concepts. I flip flopped for many more years
between healthy, unhealthy, meat eating vegetarian etc, until I
settled where I am now  with mainly vegetarian diet with a little fish
now and then.

I do however dream of taking a more radical dietary step and entering
the world of the raw vegan diet. For me there is something very
attractive about ridding myself to caffeine,refined
sugars,dairy,cooked foods and other acid forming foods and embracing a
world fueled by nuts, legumes,seaweed, grains, seeds, sprouts, agave
and fruits. A purged and pure self free of all comfort foods and
unhealthy indulgences. Do I have the strength of character and will
power on a cold winters evening to resist a delicious lentil Shepard’s
pie with a half pound of butter melted on top followed by a packet of
chocy bickies and large mugs of hot chocolate. Or plates of burnt
toast while in bed with the Sunday papers. Hmmmm I’m perhaps not quite
yet ready to fully embrace cold comfort.