I’ve never really believed in having a soul sister…until now, that is. This month’s food diary comes from a dear friend of mine who I met at, yet again, the magical yoga studio I keep talking about. I remember the first time I met Toni, we practiced next to each other during her first time in the studio. Before we began our practice, we were all instructed to gather two yoga blocks and a blanket. The next thing you know, out of the corner of my eye, I notice Toni lining up her blocks ever so precisely next to her mat and refolding her blanket into the perfect square. I never thought I would meet someone so particular about their yoga props as I was – it was at this moment I knew we’d make great friends. From that day on we bonded over being “Type-A” yogis.
Toni and I continued to get to know each other as we were magically paired up to be “buddies” in our yoga teacher training this past winter. I couldn’t have asked for a better soul to lean on and confide in, during an intensely transformative period of my life. During training, we were often glued at the hip and constantly finding ourselves gravitating towards all the same things, having similar personal challenges, and somehow being totally okay with being terribly awkward in front of each other.
And so, having gotten to know Toni and as we continue to support each other’s endeavors, I asked her about her favorite comfort food. And what she had to say simply made my heart melt faster than you can say “I love bolognese.”
“Cooking is my comfort food…”
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My name is Toni, I am a mental health and addictions therapist by trade, am married to my wonderful husband Kevin for about 6 years now, and have a lovely, playful dog and cat at home. Carly and I met through the yoga studio where we both attend classes. She was one of the first people I talked to at the studio and made me feel so welcomed. We bonded further when we were paired up as buddies in our yoga teacher training program. We connected instantly over our mutual love of food. When Carly asked me to write a guest post for her about my comfort foods I struggled to think of just one. I grew up in Virginia, where comfort food is pretty much all we eat. Food is what you bring to someone when they have had a baby, when someone has died, when it’s their birthday, when it’s a holiday, WHENEVER. Food is my love language.
However, I never cooked much growing up. I would hang out in the kitchen with my mom when she was making dinner to help out here and there, but never really made a meal myself. During this time I’d say my comfort foods were biscuits and gravy and my mom’s perfect chocolate chip cookies.
In my sophomore year of college I had a schedule that allowed me to be in my dorm in the middle of the day. A lot of my friends had classes during that time, so I started watching daytime Food Network programming. I’m not sure why I was so captured by it, but it was riveting to watch people cook. I learned a lot, but didn’t have a kitchen in my dorm and couldn’t put anything into practice. When I returned home for spring break, I decided to host a dinner party for my family. A three course dinner party for six people. My first time cooking a full meal. I admit that it was a little ambitious. (The menu: split pea soup, chicken piccata with fettuccine, and profiteroles with chocolate sauce and ice cream). To my and my family’s surprise, it was all delicious and no one left hungry.
Once I moved into my own apartment I started cooking for myself a lot more. And feeding my roommates and friends. This is when I discovered that cooking is my comfort, no matter what the food is. There is just something about taking an assortment of disparate ingredients, combining them in specific ways and transforming them into something delicious that nourishes bodies and connects hearts. Cooking is a miracle every time. It calms my anxiety and stress, unites me with people, and gives me an avenue to express love.
If I had to pick one comfort food now it would be pasta bolognese. It’s one of the first recipes I bookmarked when I started becoming a Food Network fangirl. It’s a dish that is quite simple but takes about 5 hours to create. Bolognese is not so much a meal that you cook, it is one that you love into existence. The hearty sauce requires patient tending, love and care. For the entire day the house is filled with the smell of the simmering warm, herby tomato sauce. The scent itself will make your mouth water. Dinner is highly anticipated when I make pasta bolognese because we’ve been waiting for it all day. When we finally sit down to eat we are silent for the first few bites. Then, over the course of the meal and glasses of wine, connection happens. And of course, over the following days the next best thing happens: leftovers.
Written by Toni A.