A Comfort Food Dish Rich in Friendship

At slightest once a week, we arrive home from a bureau we share with a dozen other writers and, impressed with hunger, immediately start to cook. we lift out my scratched enamelware pot. we magnitude in rice, quinoa and H2O with a inexhaustible splash of salt and set it on a stove to cook. we take a retard of medium-firm tofu from a package, pat it dry, cut it into pieces and drizzle it with Bragg’s glass aminos, soy sauce’s unfermented hippie cousin. Then we rummage by a crisper for shaggy greens or broccoli — whatever we can find — and trim divided a woody bits. we grill a tofu in coconut oil, boil a vegetables, cut some spices from a garden box and offer myself cooking in my favorite shoal play with a healthy allegation of chile paste.

The whole routine takes about 40 minutes. The plate is usually sustaining adequate to clear a small self-righteousness. And yet a extraordinary contingent of tofu, Bragg’s and coconut oil eventually renovate to bear savory, custardy bites, this plate is about some-more than usually tastes and textures. we grew adult meditative of tofu as bland, rubbery filler food, yet steeped in aminos, a semisoft tofu melts divided with any bite, withdrawal behind a steamy, gratifying contrail of salt and umami. The coconut oil lends a snippet of a sweet, pleasant aroma as it yields a crisp, lacy crust. Mixed with quinoa, a rice becomes eccentric and complex, a chewy counterpoint to a proposal tofu. With usually a few stairs and 5 categorical ingredients, a plate hardly requires a recipe, yet a penchant with that we eat it, a approach we demeanour brazen to and relax into that erotic bowl, make me feel a approach usually a handful of dishes have over a march of my life. In a final few years, this funny, nourishing, elementary plate has somehow turn my elite comfort food.

By definition, comfort dishes are abounding and creamy, or evocative of childhood pleasures. But this plate contains no butter, cheese or duck stock, a pillars atop that classical comfort dishes are built. Quinoa and tofu don’t stoke a sentimental fire — or even an ancestral one — for me. But this plate reflects a span of friendships so nutritive that they’ve enveloped me in a sisterhood I’ve always sought. While we grew adult in suburban Southern California in a 1980s, my friends Mara and Twilight Greenaway were scampering adult avocado trees and pulling weeds on a small plantation atop a pile of cooled lava half an sea away, in Hawaii. When we all finished adult in a Bay Area 20-some years later, we was operative in a grill with Mara’s best crony while Twilight wrote about food and farming. Our lives were firm to intersect, and they did, around a table.

At first, we was a one cooking for them. But several years ago, a grill we ran closed, and we shifted divided from veteran cooking. Just as we mislaid my solid source of income and health insurance, we harmed my knee and fell into a harmful depression. we couldn’t prepare for myself, let alone anyone else, so Twilight and Mara began to prepare for me. Whenever we could pattern a energy, I’d revisit one or a other, lay during her list and let her wrap me in friendship.


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At first, apologies accompanied each meal. The sisters disturbed constantly that a elementary dishes they served me — sautéed greens, fry chicken, pots of beans — weren’t considerable adequate to offer a chef. But a value of eating during a friend’s list is found around it, not on it. I’ll eat anything, even dishes I’ve always shunned, when a crony cooks it. And besides, they’re both good cooks. So when one afternoon Twilight asked if we wanted a break and afterwards done me a pot of churned grains when we answered yes, we ate it with propensity — even yet I’d always hold an irregular hate opposite quinoa.

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