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Monday, September 28, 2009

Comfort Food

The sweet, sugary scent of my mother's rice pudding is unforgettable. As I stepped off the school bus, the breeze carried a strong whiff of cinnamon that conjured the steaming bowls that waited for me on our kitchen table. Its aroma was intoxicating. I could hardly wait and ran across the park and onto our home’s porch, eagerly anticipating the pudding’s soft heat melting in my mouth. What a welcome! Cinnamon mixed with warm, milky rice I could already taste accompanied by an inner sigh of being home.

It wasn't just rice pudding. It was my mother's being there to feed and nurture me. The hot, heaping mound of rice dusted with cinnamon awaited me along with my mom, my best friend, who I told everything about what happened at school as I gulped down her love offering.

She knew all about my friends, classes, and activities. She was my confidante and adviser and understood my adolescent insecurities. Mom’s rice pudding was soothing, a warm food hug that embraced my teenage angst and me. Not chicken soup… but rice pudding for my soul.

How I long for my mother's rice pudding, a recipe of safety, fullness, and comfort. It made everything OK…food for the heart, mind, and stomach…delicious mouthfuls of mother food to warm and fill me with her love and protection.

There has not been any food like it since. For years, I have searched for rice pudding like hers in restaurants, delis, and gourmet grocery stores, but never found any that compared in taste, texture, or feeling. Like Water for Chocolate, there was a special ingredient from my mother in the pudding that cannot be duplicated in someone else’s recipe. It was uniquely hers…never written down…but saved nevertheless in my memory. It satisfied my hunger like only she could.

Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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