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Comfort food – is old school really better?

Comfort food – is old school really better?

Comfort food is food made hearty and with plenty of flavour. One taste and you’re taken back to the happy place from your youth. Comfort food is food from the old days, made fresh, made with love and served with a smile.

But is comfort food cooked the old school way really better?

Is the old school way of doing anything better?  Will Smith defending his wife’s honour the old school way has gone viral around the world. But the overwhelming response to his very public loss of control has been negative. 

Comfort Food enjoyment

Is how our grandparents enjoyed their comfort food casseroles – seasoned, buttered, roasted, homemade – any different from how we enjoy comfort food?

The words ’comfort’ and ‘food’ together conjures different memories for different people.

Sometimes the moniker of ‘comfort food’ can be used as an excuse to dump slop onto a plate while extolling the virtues of rustic cooking and serving methods – think well-known celebrity chefs stuck for new ideas given the relentless schedule of their syndicated cooking shows.

Other times comfort food is choc-a-block full of the ingredients we know we should limit. Think salt.

Most often comfort food tastes so good, seconds and thirds are a given.

Slow-cooked Comfort Food

The old school way of slow cooking healthy comfort food recipes has been back in vogue for awhile. Many of us are turning away from the quick fix cooking of microwaving and spending time cooking with though and care. The nationwide interest in microwaves in Australia when they were first introduced in 1980 led to 77% of Australian homes owning one by 1995. 

This has eased and now many more of us are cooking with thought and preparation. We’re allowing for the time needed to cook well and factoring this in to our lifestyle. Slow cooking different cuts of meat, fish and vegetables is leading many of us down an enjoyable exploratory path to culinary delight. These are becoming our go to comfort food recipes.

In many respects the isolation of COVID restrictions gave us an opportunity to return to old school comfort food cooking.

Look, getting bullied in school and coming home crying in the rain and my mom making me a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup with some oysterettes. It was comfort food; that is what food should be.

~ Anthony Bourdain

The social mindset driving slow-cooking is that in a fast-paced world‭, ‬many of us are striving to preserve some peace in the kitchen by‭ ‬using old-fashioned techniques in new ways‭.

Slow Cooking Comfort Food – Then and Now

The concept of slow cooking was how we always cooked ‬up until the 1950s‭. At this time ‬‭ ‬“TV dinners”‭ ‬and other convenience foods were introduced‭. Food preparation was a task that took much of a housewife’s day‭. ‬As innovation and technology offered more options for convenience, ‬and as more women joined the workforce‭,‬‭ ‬time spent on household‭ ‬“chores”‭ ‬like cooking and kitchen cleanup decreased‭.‬

Slow Food International was launched in 1989‭ ‬as a global‭, ‬grassroots organisation designed to‭ ‬“prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions‭, ‬counteract the rise of fast life‭, ‬and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat‭, ‬where it comes from‭, ‬and how our food choices affect the world around us‭.‬”‭ ‬There are now millions of people in more than 160‭ ‬countries participating in Slow Food efforts to enhance the mindful appreciation of food‭.

Anthony Bourdain and Sean Brock enjoy the comfort food delights of the inimitable Waffle House