Ahh…comfort food. Maybe it’s the sound of bacon sizzling that wakes you up in the morning. Maybe it’s leftover pizza at midnight. Or maybe it’s just that grilled cheese sandwich you had for breakfast…and lunch…and dinner. No matter where we are or what it is to us, certain things that we eat give us that warm and fuzzy feeling, one that tells the stories of home, a good day, or a full stomach.
I’m pretty Canadian through and through. And you really can’t be without having gone through dozens of those blue boxes in your kitchen pantries while growing up. Which ones, you ask? Kraft Dinner, of course. KD for the typical Canadian child after school is the equivalent to instant noodles and ramen for those of us blessed with Asian cuisine.
But Marco Polo didn’t bring back pasta from China to Europe just for scrumptious Italian meals that have spiralled into a cheesy quick fix for hungry adolescent teens (at least, I hope he didn’t). And neither has the humble macaroni been one where Mac ‘n’ Cheese is the only sure fire way for macaroni to be eaten. I know growing up that my first taste of the rainbow-shaped pasta wasn’t for afternoon meals or even dinner. I had it for breakfast.
Whoa, hold on for a sec. Breakfast?
As a Chinese-Canadian, I can vouch that Chinese people take the “Breakfast should be the largest meal of the day” idea very seriously. Please refer to dimsum if you’re curious to know why.
My section on Markham Food will be dedicated to relaying everyday comfort food that a lot of us from the East side (of the world) grew up loving and finding, well, comfort in. Like I said, comfort food is anything that brings back good memories or lets you settle down with a warm and hearty stomach at the end of the meal. I wanted to start with something simple. Something that gave me that same fuzziness. It may have been the fried rice I was eating, but I knew what I wanted my blog posts to talk about. The classic Combo A at your local Chinese cafes (aka cha chan tangs; read my next blog post!): Macaroni and Ham in Soup.
I mean, what can be more comforting in the morning, when you’re eating breakfast at home or at a local cafe, and be served a heaping bowl of macaroni in soup. With ham. And a piece of buttered toast/egg sandwich. Downed with a cup of hot milk tea? Want to be fancier? Try asking for the ham to be shredded first. Want to be less opulent? Remove those peas, carrots, and corn that’s usually sprinkled on top for “aesthetics” purposes.
I know a lot of people can agree on this, and it may surprise them, because it’s so simple. It may not be something you may miss immediately after weeks away from home, but it’s something that we do go back to time and time again. For me, it has become a large part of my life, because it reminds me of my earliest memories growing up.
My memory of macaroni and ham goes back to preschool when my dad and I would go to a local restaurant for breakfast after dropping my mom off at work. It would be the only thing we order. I would try really hard to finish all the macaroni, but I always ate too much of the ham and ending up pushing the bowl to my dad to finish. And in he’ll come to finish the meal, breaded butter and all. Hope you liked that walk down memory lane.
Mac n’ Cheese is pretty good, sometimes. But, Macaroni and Ham ain’t bad either.