The Era of Comfort Food

The first time my friend Maria and I shared a meal together we went to a Mexican restaurant on University Place. Truthfully, neither of us remember the name, likely because we never felt compelled to return there later on. The food was decent, perfectly acceptable, nothing without flavor. But we were both looking for something else. Maria wanted more of the traditional cooking that her Mexican parents, particularly her mother, would make for her. I was looking for more of the Tex-Mex angle that I favored, being from Texas. We were inevitably disappointed because either way, the restaurant could not provide the comfort Maria got from her mother’s cooking and I from my favorite Tex-Mex restaurants back home.

Comfort foods are named for their helpful properties, for their ability to provide just a little relief from whatever stressor may be occupying your mind. In these past few months since the pandemic started, it only makes sense that we might all be craving our favorite comfort foods more than usual. 

Talking with Maria recently about it, I learned more about how she has noticed a change in her relationship with her comfort foods. 

“What do you think constitutes a comfort food?” I asked her first. 

On the small screen of my phone I watched her pause to look up at the ceiling before answering, “Probably something that makes you feel, like, warm inside physically, or in a way that brings back fond memories,” she said, “any foods that take you back to a time when you felt good.”

I agreed completely. The point of comfort foods is to do exactly this – make you feel comforted, make you feel warm and of course happy memories are probably attached to a lot of these.

“What are some of your favorite comfort foods?” I asked her next.

“Anything my mom makes, for the most part. Actually, a lot of breakfast foods that she makes. Chilaquiles, or eggs with chorizo or potatoes. They’re all simple foods. Sometimes just a tortilla spread with beans, then some cheese and salsa can be amazing. A lot of times it’s just whatever we eat whenever there’s nothing else.” 

In Maria’s words: “Huevos rancheros con chilaquiles, y frijoles fritos con chorizo.”

We both laughed at that, and I completely understood what she meant. One of my own favorite comfort foods is what my mother calls “estrellitas,” “estrellita” meaning “little star.” It’s a simple, light tomato soup with star pasta, but it never fails to warm me.

“Okay, and how much access did you have to your comfort foods while we were on campus in New York?” I asked.

Maria gave me a look and I laughed. 

“You know,” she said, and I laughed harder.

“Yeah, I do,” I said, recalling a time she dragged me with her on a long subway ride to Queens.

“Yeah, to get the good stuff, the real stuff, I have to go to Brooklyn or Queens. I have to find a panaderia there, and somewhere I can get chorizo, too. So in other words, not a lot.”

“What about the pandemic? How has your relationship to food changed during the pandemic?”

She frowned for a second but then shrugged. 

“Honestly, it’s just nice to be able to have my mom’s cooking again, to be able to eat those comfort foods every day. But then also, since I recently moved in with my friend it’s kind of like New York again, I don’t get it as much. Sometimes though she has my brother send some over. And sometimes I just beg her to make someone send me some.”

I nodded along, then asked, “Have you noticed yourself craving your comfort foods more during the pandemic?” 

“Hmm, not necessarily? But also, I’m just really appreciative of the fact that I can eat my mom’s cooking. Obviously I normally wouldn’t be able to during the school year. I’m just trying to savor it in the limited time I have. And it saves me a lot of stress, time, and money to be able to eat what she makes.”

Comfort food, as I learned after this brief conversation with Maria, is oftentimes food that is not easily accessible. This could very well be the case for you, too. Whether it be the resources or the chef, it usually takes an outside factor to help provide the beloved meal. When craving something you enjoy that you are unable to get to, especially during a highly stressful time such as now, it can then be difficult to cope. I decided to include a link to an article on some other ways you can comfort yourself, such as talking things out, meditating, and even things as simple as taking a shower.

Remember it is okay to take the time you need to comfort or care for yourself. In fact, it’s necessary. To avoid burnout and overall exhaustion, check in on yourself and make sure you give yourself the breaks you need. If you find yourself wanting to order take-out to do so, Campus Clipper has a variety of coupons to pick from to help you out, such as the one below! Click here to view the coupon, and make sure to go to the Campus Clipper website to explore more. 

KC Gourmet Empanadas Coupon on the Campus Clipper website.

You can find all of our active coupons at this link. Redeem them here:

By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

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