When I was growing up in Jamaica, we would have this dish called “stew peas”, which is a very traditional dish made with red kidney beans, meat and “spinners”, which are oblong flour dumplings. It’s definitely a staple in the Jamaican diet, and my kind of comfort food.
Last week I decided to make the Brazilian version of this dish, called feijoada. Instead of kidney beans, black beans are used, along with several types of pork and/or beef. It reminded me of my childhood when dinner would be cooking on the stove all afternoon long and sending mouthwatering smells wafting through the whole house, but with a wonderful foreign twist that I’d never had before. I made a big pot of the feijoada and we had it again and again all week long, along with orange slices, collard greens, and cashew coconut rice. At the end of the week my brother-in-law came to visit and had some of the last of it and raved about how delicious it was. We ended on a sweet note with some homemade brigadeiros, which are also Brazilian.
Every culture and person has their own comfort foods. Something that reminds them of home, growing up, or makes them feel better on a rainy day. For my older sister, it’s Chinese food. Whenever she doesn’t feel well, she sends someone out to go and get some Cantonese Chinese food for her and then she perks right up.
Unfortunately, most of my comfort foods are difficult to find in the States since they mostly involve Jamaican fruits and vegetables. So it’s great to be able to find recipes such as this feijoada I made that brings back all the feelings of home even though I had never had this before. Maybe it’s because I made the dish in my “dutchie”, a traditional Jamaican iron pot similar in heaviness to a Dutch oven, but so much more simple and less expensive.
Whatever the reason, I was definitely channeling memories of lying on a beach or lazing on my parents’ old verandah while eating this.
What are some of your comfort foods, and what do you do when you don’t have access to them?