Comfort Food (Essay, Part 5)

Eating food that brings you comfort is not the same thing as overeating. One is a reward and the other is a punishment. Believe me I, like many women, have dieted enough to know. A craving for rich, fatty food though, is natural. We’ve evolved with a taste for it; the calories were needed in our distant past to prevent starvation. I personally think every famine survival kit should include chocolate butter creams.

My dear mother has always had a sweet tooth. She told me during World War II when three of her four older brothers were stationed in war zones, her mother, Grandma Verna, made a treat with rationed sugar called “sweet cakes.”  Mom described sweet cakes as somewhere between a cookie and a cake.  Often Grandma and mom sat around the wood stove in the evening eating sweet cakes while they read books like Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, or Jean Stratton Porter’s Girl of the Limberlost.

Sometimes Grandma would set her book down and walk over to the front window, staring worriedly out at the dark valley below. Then one awful evening in 1943, she saw car headlights moving jerkily down the rough road leading to their house perched on a West Virginia hilltop. A telegraph had arrived. Her son, my Uncle Ray, had been grievously wounded on a little-known island in the central Pacific: Tarawa.

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