Comforting Classics: The “Something Olde” 2020 Roundup

This is part one of an end-of-year roundup series for the dumpster fire known as 2020. To read more about it, check out the kickoff post here.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I did a lot of comfort eating in 2020. I’m not calling it stress eating, as I typically tend to lose my appetite when I’m stressed. But when I was really not having a good day, I definitely gravitated toward the things I knew would give me some joy and comfort. It’s like getting a hug from a loved one after a long, hard day, with the added benefit of filling your tummy with delicious food. Below are my picks for this year:

Homemade Dishes

  1. Zhajiangmian, or fried sauce noodles
    A classic from my mother’s repetoire of dishes, this was at the very top of my list when I thought about what brought me comfort. It’s not only sustained me during quarantine, but also through the years whenever I’ve felt lonely, sad, or generally misunderstood by the world. The post is now updated with a proper recipe, so please go check it out!
  2. Minced pork and tofu
    Another classic from my mother, I’ve carried this dish with me since college. It took a few tries to get the right amount of flavor, but it’s one of those dishes that just get better the longer it sits. Shoutout to my sister who wrote a recipe article about it (linked above).
  3. Eggs on toast
    Strictly speaking, I don’t typically eat this outside of breakfast hours. But I’m including it on the list anyway because it always makes me feel ready to take on the day, no matter how reluctant I am about doing that. My favorite way to eat this is with a poached egg on rustic bread, though a nicely fried or soft boiled egg does just fine too. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll smush some avocado and make a bed for the egg to lie on.
One of my better poached eggs on toast.

Drinks & Snacks

  1. Boba
    I’m cheating a little here by using boba as a catch-all term, but thanks to quarantine, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for the 5 (!) boba tea shops in my neighborhood, all within walking distance. Whether it’s needing to blow off steam, get a pick-me-up, or motivate myself to take a walk, boba is almost always the easiest and best solution to all these needs.
  2. Also boba. (I’m a simple gal, I don’t mess with what works.)
    Some of my neighborhood favorites include: Yi Fang Fruit Tea, Urban Ritual, and Cup of Blooms.
Afternoon pick-me-up from Yi Fang.

Takeout

*Both these places are located in downtown San Mateo. Check them out if you’re in the Bay Area!

  1. Pokeatery
    I was relatively late to the poké train when it first came around, but I’m a convert now especially having tasted truly wonderful authentic poké in Hawaii. This place can’t quite compare to the Hawaiian fish markets, but it gets the job done whenever I want to imagine myself on a warm tropical island.
  2. Himawari
    This local Japanese joint touts itself as a ramen restaurant, but the real hidden star is their fried rice dishes, particularly the takana fried rice which includes pork and pickled greens. Do yourself a favor and skip the ramen, opting for the fried rice instead. Order some sides or a tofu salad to go with it and you’ll be enjoying the right things here.

Extras

  1. My morning tea/coffee ritual
    When I was still in an office, I always took a few minutes when I got in to make my coffee or tea, whether it was using the espresso machine or steeping a tea bag properly. Since we started working from home, I found that this morning ritual really helped ground and prepare me for the day. I’ve also started making tea from actual tea leaves and boy, I can’t go back to tea bags anymore. No hate towards anyone who uses tea bags (because they’re convenient and usually cheap), but I now find that the tea just doesn’t taste as nice compared to using tea leaves.
  2. Weekend brunch
    I don’t do this often, but there have been a few weekends here and there that I’ve prepared a proper brunch spread and it’s always added an extra spark of positive energy. Sure, it tends to require a little extra preparation, but it’s never failed to make a weekend feel a little more special even if we’re just staying in like all the other weekends.
A brunch spread featuring shakshuka, barbecue smoked salmon, avocado, artisan toast, and tropical smoothies.

I hope this roundup has inspired you to think about the things that you’ve found comfort in, whether it’s through food or something else. Hope to see you in the next one!