Comfort Food (Essay, Part 4)

Life would be so much easier if we could eat all we want—of whatever we wanted. I think cows live like that. It’s in their bovine nature. One time a friend treated me to something I didn’t want, a healthy salad luncheon. I remember chomping through the lettuce like a buck-toothed mule. Evidently, my friend was worried I might get as fat as a pig. Of course, I’d rather look graceful and swan-like. But swans, unlike cows, are bad tempered. Maybe swans never eat what they want.

I have a recipe I got from the mother of one of my daughter’s old boyfriends. The dish is called Funeral Potatoes, which I assumed meant it was a standard potluck dish to share with grieving families. Funeral Potatoes are the very definition of comfort food, the basic ingredients being hash browns, soaked and baked with a half cup of butter, two cups of sour cream, and two cups of grated cheese.

I found it sadly ironic when my daughter told me she’d heard her old boyfriend had been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and wasn’t expected to live very long.

“He wasn’t even a smoker!” my daughter cried, trying to understand how a brain tumor could happen to someone still relatively young and healthy.

“He may not have been a smoker, but he’s a human being,” I told her. “We’re all prone to mortality.”

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