Quite frankly, it’s cold outside. Granted, it’s not a New York cold or a Michigan cold. Most certainly not an Alaskan cold. In my defense, for the past few years, it just hasn’t been that chilly down here in Tennessee. I’m pretty sure shorts were an acceptable option last Thanksgiving. Shorts, people! In late November!
Don’t get me wrong, though; I love the cold. I love the Fall. Why you might ask? Well, while there are several reasons that I could list out for you, the most obvious to me is comfort. Fall is comfort. Cold weather is comfort. There is just something about being able to cuddle up under a blanket with a loved one, a dog, or a cat and just relax. You know, read a book or watch a movie with a hot cup of coffee or tea. This activity seems most acceptable when a chill is in the air.
The colors of Fall are comforting, too. Watching the greens change to oranges, reds, yellows, and browns is calming. Looking out at the mountains this time of year is, quite simply, breathtaking. I could stare outside for hours on end if I had the time…
But perhaps the most comforting thing of all is the food. Soups, stews, and braises fill restaurant menus and family tables. The depth of flavors and the richness of such dishes brings warmth to our cores in a way a salad or a grilled piece of salmon just can’t do.
It’s during this time of year that we have the opportunity to visit family and friends and it’s most often during these instances that we get to enjoy our favorite dishes from our youth. Maybe it’s a casserole that your aunt makes or an apple pie that your grandmother is famous for. When we take a bite of these foods, we are immediately brought back to our childhood and it’s as if we no longer have a care in the world. All that matters is the company we are with and the memories that we are making.
For me? The dish that I crave is my mom’s chicken and dumplings. Growing up, it was always a special treat. We didn’t have it all of the time, but she whipped it up every now and then for a comforting family dinner. Even though I’m 25, whenever I speak to my mom and she tells me she made it for my dad, I get sad because nothing is like her chicken and dumplings. Sure, I could go to almost any Southern-style restaurant and order chicken and dumplings, but it’s never the same. It’s basic. It just falls flat.
Nothing compares to the richness of her broth, the moistness of her chicken, and the softness of her dumplings. All of these elements come together to create my perfect comfort food. I’ve always believed that the simplest dishes are the best dishes and chicken and dumplings is no exception. It’s difficult to master and I’ve tried many times, but it’s never as good as hers. One day, when I finally master the dish, I will share it all with you, but until then I’ll continue to look forward to the day that I can go home and enjoy it at my parent’s table while laughing with my siblings as they catch everyone up on how their lives are going.