What exactly is comfort food? According to Wikipedia, it is food that offers sentimental value and evokes feelings of nostalgia. For me, it’s the homemade chicken curry my mom used to make every time I’d come home from college. We crave these comfort foods when we feel vulnerable or alone.
I’ve been away from home for a month so far, and the homesickness is kicking in full gear. I find myself craving the flavors of home: the Sriracha sauce that I put on everything, the juicy cheeseburger from In-n-out covered in secret sauce, the late-night California burrito after a night on the town, and most of all, Hot Cheetos, my guilty pleasure.
Of course, these are not foods that I can find easily here in Europe. However, I’ve recently experienced a phenomenon at a restaurant in Lyon, France. Casseroles et Vieilles Gamelles is a place that offers traditional home-style French fare, recipes that, if you had one, your French grandmother would make.
Walking in, you feel as if you’ve just been transported to grandma’s humble cottage in the French countryside. The “casseroles,” copper pots and pans, that the place is named after, hang from the ceiling. Handcrafted wooden shelves line the walls, decorated with various vintage kitchen gadgets and tools. Rustic wooden chairs and tables fill the dining room, each table topped with small jar filled with fresh flowers picked from the garden.
The place feels quite intimate and very unassuming. The snobby atmosphere of the Parisian bistros and cafés do not exist here. After the first sip of wine, I feel warm, and my insecurities of being in a foreign country simply fade away.
Of course, the menu was completely in French. However, our server was kind enough to translate everything for us. The ingredients and combinations sounded so foreign. Rouget and tapenade tartine? Fish mousse? Boeuf…I know that means beef…with champignons? Uh oh, what was I getting myself into?