Comfort food as childhood memories
My mum's polpettine di pollo e patate, chicken and potato meatballs
On Monday we talked about comfort food as is something that makes you feel better when you eat it. In most cases, it is soft and creamy, you can eat it with a spoon, and it comes from a bowl. That’s why I shared my recipe for leek and potato purée.
But comfort food is often associated with childhood memories: that cake your mum would make every Sunday, that brand of chocolate bars you would stash in your backpack for a school trip, the taste of the tea your mum would make every afternoon at 5 pm sharp.
It brings back positive memories of easier times.
An example of comfort food that recently came to my mind is my mum’s polpettine di pollo e patate, tiny meatballs made with ground chicken breast, boiled potatoes and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. These bring me comfort because I associate them with a happy moment in my life. Oh well, let’s be honest, I’ve had a happy, serene life, this is just one of those moments. My sister was a few years old and extremely picky, and my mum would cook these chicken meatballs for her, as they were simple, highly nutritious, and, well, white. One of those foods children would eat easily. I was a teenager, but I would share the same food with Claudia. I could eat a dozen of these meatballs, cooked in a very peculiar way, which is steamed onto a ceramic plate, al piatto, my mum would say.
Now I make these meatballs for Livia, and I hope she will remember them as her mamma’s polpettine.
On the same level, I would put our afternoon tea, shared with my mum, dunking a couple of biscuits in it. That was a comfort food because it was a reliable ritual: come rain or shine, at 5 pm sharp we would drink our tea, always the same brand, always a squeeze of lemon in it. It washed away my teenage blues, it was a welcome break during homework, it still is a moment when we can chitchat freely. You can count on it, as you should be able to count on your mum.
Chicken and potato meatballs
Tiny, delicate, with a simple flavour, they were made with ground chicken meat, potatoes, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano: 3 or 4 meatballs would be enough to cover up a whole meal for my sister. I was so happy every time mum cooked the chicken meatballs for Claudia.
For children, the best side dish is a warm and creamy bowl of mashed potatoes, with lots of Parmigiano in it.
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More childhood comfort food from the blog archive
Bracioline al pomodoro. These bracioline, sliced of beef fried and cooked in tomato sauce, are my first noteworthy gourmet memory. I was probably five years old, it was autumn and it was the day when I came back home from the hospital after the adenoid surgery. That day marked a change in my life, an epochal change. A universe of flavours and tempting smells opened wide to a skinny, pale, little girl.
Roasted tomato risotto. I was a picky eater. Would you believe it? I used to eat lunch at school and it felt like torture. That giant snail shell pasta with tomato sauce, dried out with a shower of grated Parmigiano, seemed to multiply in my plate. Not to mention the wilted green salad. There was one dish, though, that I would eat with dedication: it was a humble tomato risotto. Probably because my mum and grandma never made it at home, it was somehow special.
Tuscan rice pudding tart. Telling you about this cake is like opening the door of my house, showing you the fireplace where my grandpa used to stand by, with his hands behind his back to warm himself, it’s like offering you a barley coffee in my grandma’s tin cup. It’s like walking together on the same path I used to follow coming back from school with the backpack on my shoulders, waving hello to my neighbours as they appeared at the window. It is a simple and sweet cake we make very often, the main ingredient is rice! It’s a foolproof cake, you’ll love it for its delicate and unique flavour.