Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 26 July 2013

Comfort Food or Sh*ts and Gags part ii

I’m hoping to high heaven it won’t be a repeat of the squits. I haven’t eaten since Tuesday.

It didn’t matter until this morning, because until now, I haven’t felt hungry, I’ve felt positively rotten, but, this morning, I’ve woken up feeling somewhat recovered. Thank goodness.

A tummy bug is not a happy experience, and when a 24 hour bug becomes a sixty hour bug, a girl can really start to feel like crap. The roiling guts were bad enough, but the headache was worse, and, in this heat!

Well, I’m not going to moan about it any more, because it’s over, and I can start to think about eating something.

Here’s the problem, though, and there’s always a problem... Here’s the problem: I want comfort food. I feel hollow and empty, and tired and pale and I want to be comforted.

I’ve never been much of an eater. I’ve always been more of a control freak, more comforted by an empty stomach than a full one. The first time I ever comfort ate was in July 1994. I was thirty and it came as a total shock to me when I found myself eating a bag of crisps for no good reason, with tears rolling down my face after my grandfather died. Heartache had always made my throat close, up to that point, and there I was eating and crying at the same time. Weird.

I’m not your average girl. Comfort food isn’t usually sweet. It generally isn’t muffins or ice-cream. It might be a big bowl of macaroni cheese, but my very favourite comfort food is the potato. I never met a potato I didn’t like. The husband even makes a potato recipe that we call ‘favourite potatoes’. You can mash them, fry them, chip them, sauté them, crush them, jacket them, do what you will with them and I’ll eat them. Serve them hot or cold, new or old, in a salad or dauphinoise and I’m happy.

Gosh, I’m salivating.

I know what I’d love to eat today, and I know I’ve got some in the freezer, and there’s salad in the fridge. I might not manage a whole one, because I haven’t eaten since Tuesday, and the portions are generous, but I’m very tempted.

One of my current favourite ways to eat the humble potato is in a Homity Pie. 

I hadn’t eaten a homity pie for years. My grandmother used to make them when I was a child. It’s a peasant dish, I suppose, made with left over potato and a bit of onion and cheese. It’s not fancy or special, and it’s not grand, but it is properly wonderful. It’s comfort food. It reminds me of my grandmother and of proper cooking, and of being in her tiny kitchen, warmed by her aga, watching her cook. She served her homity for lunch, on its own, but sometimes to accompany a game bird, too, which my grandad would shoot and hang for her.
Riverford Organic Farms's Homity Pie

It sounds romantic now, their lifestyle, but it was bloody hard work. He was the man whose death caused me to comfort eat in the first place. I wonder whether it was because she was such a wonderful cook, and he grew all the fruit and veg they ate, and shot all the game. Perhaps it was, and perhaps it was fitting.

I don’t make my own homity pies, although I’m a pretty good cook, too, so I easily might. I found really good ones from Riverford Organic Farms, and they’ve become a regular supper treat for me and the husband. We eat them with a bit of salad, because with all that potato and pastry, you really don’t need anything else, except, maybe a nice glass of white.

It’s going to be good to eat something, again, and maybe it'll give me the strength to go out for a walk tomorrow. I have no idea how people manage on starvation diets, or even to do a day’s work on them. I’m shattered and feel horribly wobbly. I need a great big dollop of comfort, and, today, that’s exactly what I plan to get.


  1. I am fond of potatoes too; maybe it is a trait of intelligent beautiful people. ; )

    As a gourmet myself I empathise with your desire for good food. The period between being able to eat, and being able to eat real food is almost worse than the original bowel ructions for me.

  2. Bon Appetite! Stomach bugs are the worst. I am glad to hear you feel better though!
    I have to try one of those pies! Hopefully see you soon!