Comfort Food


I have moved 13 times in 15 years. Maybe more? I lost count. The first thing I move into every home I have had is: rice, salt, garlic. I wasn’t sure why — my mom always told me to do it. I’m known to be a superstitious person so I figured the garlic was to ward off bad spirits, the rice represented something about ancestors, and maybe the salt was symbolic for wealth.

On one of my moves — I finally asked my parents — WHY is this the first thing I always have to bring into the house? Not a cross? Not a statue of the Virgin Mary?

The answer: no matter how poor you are, no matter how little you have, you can always have a meal if you have garlic, salt, and rice.

I’m sure they meant this literally. We had been packing and moving all day. And maybe in their language this saying translates into something a little more beautiful — but what I heard when he told me (moving into my 8th or 9th home as a single mother at the time) — was that all you ever really need to start again are the basics. Sustenance is simple. Survival is simple. Comfort — is simple. And if you can begin by meeting your basic needs, then the rest will work itself out.

Today I made some garlic fried rice. And it made my tummy smile. And I felt happy, and inspired, and home.


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