Comfort Food, Anyone?

30/10/2023 | 0 comments

a note from THE editor, Roz Hartley

Oh my gosh, it was chilly this morning. When the alarm went off at a stupid number that started with a six and I opened one eye to total darkness, the thought of throwing off the covers and actually getting up was more unappealing than usual. Sure enough, peeking through the curtains, I saw there was a frost on the barn roof in the field opposite me and fat, fluffed up birds sitting on the wires strung between the telegraph poles, keeping their feet warm.


​When the season irrefutably changes from summer to autumn and the woolly socks come out, not only do I start to consider lighting the wood burner and adding another layer to my duvet but my need for heavy-weight comfort food becomes a slight obsession. I find myself leafing through cookery books salivating over unctuous stews and boiling broths, gooey chocolate cakes and creamy mashed potato. Let’s face it, food is the most primitive form of comfort.


​I caught the tail-end of a Nigella Lawson cooking show this week which I sucked up like a thirsty man in the desert! She wafted about in her incredibly beautiful kitchen whilst making a brie, fig and prosciutto sandwich. The photography was as close to inappropriate as you can get on a cooking programme with slurpy, dripping fingers poking little bits of melted cheese into the corners of her lipsticked-mouth but the sheer quality of the ingredients was what got me.  


​The ripened fig was nestled in a fruit bowl of similarly delicious looking fruit, no plastic wrap and no supermarket stickers. The prosciutto that Nigella lifted from her immaculate fridge was wrapped in brown, waxy paper from the delicatessen down the road and looked ostensibly incredible and the brie was perfect, oozing and creamy, just like it would be from the cheese counter at my farm shop, not solid and cold from the chiller cabinet in the supermarket.

​She popped them all in between slices of floury sourdough and proceeded to fry the whole lot in a chunk of yellow butter the size of a small country and my mouth dribbled with unfettered desire. I checked no-one heard the small moan that escaped from my lips.


As George Bernard Shaw famously wrote; “There is no sincerer love than the love of food” and in that moment I loved that sandwich more than my children and wished, not for the first time, that Nigella was my neighbour who kept knocking on my door to taste test her food.


​The look of food is just as important as the taste, perhaps even more so, as it hints at the joy to come, the pleasure we associate with eating and elevates the experience from a simple need to fuel our bodies into the intense joy of devouring a good dish.  As Gianfranco Perri (founder of Just Gourmet Foods) wrote in Speciality Food Magazine this month;

“it is .. important for independents to build a multi-sensory experience for the customer.  Food shopping shouldn’t be a sterile process, and we can be positively inspired through all our senses. Good food retailing is an art and one to be indulged with visual impact, smell, taste and through the positive emotions that a customer will hopefully leave your shop with.”

​That’s it…right there. I want to walk into my local farm shop, grab a basket and fill it with food that wouldn’t look out of place in Nigella’s kitchen. Comfort food is going to keep us warm this week (and hopefully delay the central heating going on for a little bit longer!). After all, I’d much rather spend my money on figs and cheese than gas.


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