Inspiration: Nurturing Foods

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'Tis the time for holiday cheer and also for feeling queer. (in the head or belly or wherever this year's virus settles)

Food is always a good way to show love, but never more so than when the recipient of said love (and food) is under the weather.

Being sick can make us feel like babies and yearn for our mothers. The bland, soft comfort foods of childhood are some of our most powerful food memories.

I still remember the wide egg noodles my mom would make for me -- boiled until tender and tossed with butter and salt and maybe a little Parmesan from the green can. Then there's Grandma's chicken soup and the other special foods of the sickroom, depending on our culture and upbringing.

In our house we've modernized our convalescence foods somewhat. Instead of tomato soup or toast soaked in milk, we make fresh ginger tea (water and fresh peeled ginger sliced thin and simmered to desired strength) and the rice and escarole soup from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Juicy tangerine segments are given liberally.

What are the old and new traditions in your household?