Winter is here!
It’s that time of the year when the wind’s whipping and the sky is grey. Not many would find that comforting, but there are ways to add a little sunshine to a dull day with a bowl of steaming vegetable broth, chicken pot-pie, beef stew with dill, some rich baked chocolate puddings or some cinnamon pecan rolls.
We asked our chef instructors at ICCA what would be cheering for them on a chilly cold winter evening and this is what we got from some of them. You could try some of these on the couch too when the weather gets you flagged – get indulgent, nostalgic or simply satisfy and ramp up those moods.
Half of the year in Switzerland we are savouring comfort food, from seasonal ingredients and traditions making difficult to select a favourite one. Anyway, close your eyes and imagine this …a living room window overlooking a snow white stage scenario and the silent backdrop of freezing forest climbing the hill above. The smoky chimney just heats the ambience sublimely and a mouth-watering half cheese wheel slowly melting under its distinctive apparatus (or broiler) while socializing with family and friends. Yes, raclette cheese is undoubtedly the coronation of a marvellous comfort food. Melting cheese, potatoes and some pickles, nothing more, and nothing less. I love when the experience is bringing together people and when food is so simple, so humble, so pure, so unpretending… just so damn perfect!
It’s always Chinese hot pot. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, noodle, egg dumpling, fish ball and seafood with the “numb and spicy” soup. It really warms you up and is delicious. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. And usually is my favourite meal eaten in the winter during supper time.
My most favorite winter comfort food that not only tastes amazing but it also brings back good childhood memories would a simple bread and butter pudding with warm vanilla custard. It was a winter family favorite which my older sister made for us (2 brothers and 2 sisters) when we came back home for school holidays from boarding school. We would catch up over this lovely dessert after months of being apart while we all snuggled under blankets and stayed up all night talking and watching our favorite movies together.
Good food warms up souls, energizes and brings in positivity to one’s day to come. It leaves reminiscences through to their subsequent activities and interactions.
Which other time of the year would warm up someone’s heart and mind other than winter?
This is the time of year when I like to sip in piping hot chicken broth or munch in some deep fried or steamed momos with chili chutney. However, my favourites range from puttu kadala (an Indian breakfast comprising of steamed rice cake with a black lentil stew) to the classical Poulet rôti avec jus.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth” –EDITH SITWELL.
What would the definition of comfort food mean to you? That pair of old slippers, which when you slip your feet into them you know that you’ve settled for the night. Maybe the old wooly jumper that is two sizes too big, or how about your favorite pjs? I was extremely fortunate growing up as a child, with two wonderful sets of grandparents. One was Spanish (mi abuela) and the other Italian (mia nonna). My both grandmother’s styles varied, however, the emphasis was always the same. Fresh, wholesome and definitely seasonal and both I might say were very thrifty when going to the open market three times a week. Mi abuel`s (pollo con arroz) Chicken thighs on the bone and rice with red peppers, smoked Spanish paprika and broad beans was a one pot wonder. Undoubtedly finger licking. Then mia nonnas (cannelloni ripiene con vittello) Cannelloni stuffed with veal and béchamel sauce, topped with mozzarella, was divine. As a child I ate the food; yes it was delicious but as for appreciating it, well that’s a different story all together. Later on in life and when they were no longer here, I began to ponder, why was their food so delicious? That magical touch! I have tried to replicate their dishes time and time again, without much success. Just maybe one day I might, then again certainly not in my lifetime, however, my children might tell you otherwise……