One of my fondest childhood memories of Thanksgiving involves the activity that would begin in our kitchen in the wee hours of the morning.
Aromas would literally wake me from my bed, signifying that the holiday season had officially begun.
Namely, one of our most cherished Thanksgiving staples was my grandfather’s turkey soup: chicken soup’s older, much cooler cousin. Each year, my grandfather would prepare this deliciousness with my mother, as our taste buds all watered in anticipation of the nourishment it would provide.
While my grandfather, regretfully, has not been with us for over two decades, the tradition of the turkey soup continues. And each year as my mother makes it, without fail, there’s a moment where she looks at me with a heaviness in her heart and says, “I miss Papou.”
No doubt you all have your version of turkey soup. Be it a pie or some special stuffing or even a gravy that is prepared just so, these foods contain a power where a smell or taste of them serves as a time machine, transporting you back to another place and time.
They are what we refer to as comfort foods. And we are entering a chapter of the year where they surround us, and where we long for people and circumstances that have left us—and have consequently left a void.
This is why so many people speak of having no control around their comfort foods. But it isn’t about willpower or lacking the ability to say “no”; quite the contrary, it’s about an insatiable desire to have the opportunity to experience again what that food represents.
For me, the turkey soup is like a hug from Papou.
So my wish for you this holiday season is to recognize the true worth of your comfort foods. Indulge in them, but moreover, let the taste of them take you down memory lane. Let them prompt conversations about the people behind them and the traditions that inspired them. Tell stories that honor their legacy and show that they are still relevant to this day.
In other words, acknowledge what you’re missing. And pour it full by expressing gratitude that you were blessed to even have those people, those circumstances in the first place.
Here’s to a wonderful week and a fulfilling holiday, filled with the passing of recipes that let the power of your comfort foods live.