My mother was not much of a cook. Her idea of vegetables was canned green beans; dinner ran heavily toward hamburger-based meals; she never baked; her spice rack was salt, pepper, and oregano. Most of what she cooked was for the early "kids' dinner"; we did not have a lot of money, but she usually had my dad bring take-out for "the grownups" when he came home later. Her own mother was famous for cooking the Thanksgiving turkey several hours beyond done. My high school friends feared for me, and offered a crash course in domestic skills, including gourmet cooking boot camp.
My mother-in-law saw food as a way to show love. When her son and I moved in together, she gave me the Armenian cookbook she had since she was a teenager, by way of welcoming me to the family -- she had long since memorized the recipes. She made her mother's lamb shish-kebobs and pilaf for holidays, and many other dishes; the love stretched between a generation long gone and the newest additions to the family. When she visited us or we visited her, she loaded us with bags and bags of food -- Armenian specialties and ingredients, fresh fruit and vegetables from nearby farms, wrapped and frozen steaks and lamb and a special seasoned burger blend for later, baked goods, on and on. She took the same to her sister's family some hours to the south. When my mother-in-law died in April, the apartment manager cried and talked about how she would come by with food -- "you've been working too hard; here are some steaks."
After the not-a-funeral gathering to remember her this weekend, her sister's family and ours met again at MIL's favorite deli and bakery. I believe we startled the clerk, a store full of relatives buying the entire shop and chattering away with memories. But it was good.
What food comforts you? And what else is new?