Ever have one of those days, when only food will soothe an aching soul? Well, today is definitely one of those days. Today is a comfort food day. If you hadn’t noticed — and it is perfectly fine if you hadn’t — I have been absent from WordPress for most of the week. There are two reasons for this absence. I had a massive head cold that left me totally incapable of typing anything remotely lucid (seriously, what does “nacho cheese hot tub” in my blog notes mean?). I also got “locked out” of my WordPress account when Google Chrome seized up. This turned out to be a simple fix (I think) because after a visit to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, it seems that things are back on track, and here I am.
I spent most of the week feeling miserable and cranky, sleep deprived and a bit starved for good old comfort food. It is no fun to have a cold, but not being able to write was unbearable! Today my family braved the indecisive Kansas weather to solve my computer problem and run several other errands. In the course of the day it has been sunny, rainy, frigid, windy, muddy, and icy, sometimes all at once. When the wind plasters your hair into your eyes and splatters pellets of freezing rain all over your nice shopping ensemble, at least you can console yourself with the thought of getting a hot meal somewhere safe from the nasty elements.
One of the treats my husband had planned was a stop at the Hy Vee grocery store. This gesture might not seem like much, but for someone with gluten and dairy intolerance, the store’s Health Market, a section dedicated to organic, allergen free, and diet specific foods, makes shopping less terrifying. It is a haven for those of us who might otherwise have a difficult time shopping for “safe” foods. After a rough week I needed a heaping bowl of comfort food and a simple means of delivery! For a few minutes I just wandered, absorbing new product lines, trying to memorize brand names and ingredients for recall later. I tried not to impulsively grab gluten free goodies because they tend to be expensive and they can also be quite refined. ‘Gluten free’ does not automatically mean the products are healthier than snacks containing grains with gluten, as I have learned over the year. So I browsed carefully, passing over things I’ve tried before, looking instead for items of special significance.
A few items caught my attention today. First, a box of French crackers made from chestnuts brought a smile to my face. Hello old friend! The texture of the Le Pain des Fleurs crispbread is so light and delicate that they must be handled with care, but they are wonderful drizzled with a bit of oil or a dab of jam and served with tea. Next I spotted a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds, a perfect portable snack inside my hobo bag. I discovered a cheerful red gluten and MSG free chorizo, something I have been wanting but unable to find in grocery stores in my town. I plan to fry thin slices in oil (a trick I read about in Saveur), and also add bits of the chorizo to Sunday morning Migas. Apples are a staple for our family, and I never visit a store or farm without buying at least a small bag. I did just that before we visited the Health Market one last time so my husband could look at bulk spices. I grabbed a box of seaweed snacks for my daughter’s lunch box. She is addicted to these crispy little delights and will eat the entire box if I don’t hide them from her! Finally, I finished my spree with a tiny bag of volcano rice (because we have never tried it before) and a box of Lucy’s gluten free Maple Crunch Cookies (because they are 50% off and I always need cookies).
I normally feel a bit guilty about buying gluten free items because the price seems to create an illusion of extravagance that outweighs the health benefits of the products. Today, knowing the items I chose would (mostly) be shared with my family made me feel happy; I decided that making good decisions and giving us something more exciting to eat is never a bad thing!
The afternoon was rounded out with a pleasant lunch at a favorite local eatery. I felt a rush of anxiety as I scanned the menu for gluten free options and saw nothing noted. The waiter told me that while the restaurant did not technically offer gluten free options, the kitchen staff would be happy to make adjustments as needed. That sounded promising, and the staff followed through on what turned out to be a lunch of divine comfort food. I normally turn up my nose at rare steak, but I was served a Chili Steak Burrito Bowl (minus the Burrito part) with bits of steak that melted in my mouth. It was exactly the fortification I needed after a long week of bland toast, weak tea, sticky rice, and icky Kleenex. A glorious nap after coming home followed by two of the Lucy’s cookies crumbled over dairy free Almond Dream ice cream, and I am feeling like myself once again. My stomach is happy, my head feels clear, and my blog is back in business! Things are looking up.
…Except now my kids are running fevers, coughing, and blowing their noses. I guess we can’t have it all.