Tuesday, September 13, 2005

comfort food

when i think of comfort food, i only have 2 candidates: medium rare T-bone steak or spaghetti with meat sauce.

i don't go for chocolates or ice cream or cake. it has to be either steak or spaghetti.

i've always wondered why. then one day i sat down and contemplated the whys of my comfort food. after much thinking, i realized that i consider these my comfort food because i associate them with happiness.

when i was younger (ahem) there were no fast food outlets in baguio. eating out was always a treat because it meant a restaurant. birthdays, graduations, anniversaries were spent in the same way -- mass in the morning then breakfast at star cafe or dainty lunch. then we'd celebrate at home with my mom cooking her famous pansit and maja blanca, or dinner at shakey's or rose bowl.

shakey's was not a fast food when i was growing up. it was a pub-type place, with swinging saloon doors, low hanging lamps, prints on the walls, and waiters dressed in tin-pan-alley outfits, complete with hats. there was a small elevated platform where a child can watch a guy assemble pizzas. it was always dim, and there would be a live band (or combo, as they used to call it then) or a pianist.

every time we went to shakey's i ordered one thing: skilletti. this was spaghetti with mushrooms, red and green bell peppers, and ground beef in tomato sauce. they would serve this in a skillet, which added to its charm. imagine! eating from a pan in a restaurant! it was such a pleasant treat for me. if i couldn't finish it, they'd put it in a happy-meal like box but which was in the shape of a house. complete with decorative chickens in the yard.

as for rose bowl, i'd order their huge T-bone, medium rare, with a boat of mushroom gravy. they served it on sizzling plate and i'd watch it sizzle and bubble when i pour the gravy on. then i'd dig in. i'd slice through the succulent meat and just savor the tender, juicy bite-sized steak. my own slice of heaven.

i never shared my steak. my sisters would always share because they couldn't finish one serving. i ate mine all by myself.

so there. every happy occasion in my younger life was marked with mommy's cooking, or shakey's skilleti, and rose bowl T-bone steak.

these days they don't serve skilletti anymore, and shakey's is just a regular fast food place. rose bowl's steak has shrunk, although it's still yummy (or at least it was, about 2 years ago). sad.

the associations never left me though. whenever i feel the urge to eat something and i'm down, i look for my happy food. i don't look for rose bowl steak or shakey's skilletti. i just want steak or spaghetti. kahit na jollibee pa yan or mcdonald's or steak dun sa casaa.

the happy feelings flood in and lift up me some. comfort food. literally. small blessings. i'm always thankful. :)

(oh, and shakey's and i turned 30 this year. no wonder i love the place. :)

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