by Sybil PrattSeptember, 2001
ood for the soul Comfort food means different things to different people for me it's the custardy rice pudding I used to beg for as a child but depending on where you're from it could just as easily be spicy kim chee or a thick pasta e fagioli. For food writer Ann Gardon it means chunky soups, meaty stews, old-fashioned desserts and many homey marvels from her native Provence. And it must comply with what she calls CHEF's Cuisine, which stands for Cheap, Healthy, Easy and Fun. Ann is being far too modest with that acronym, as you'll see when you try the recipes she's included in Comfort Food Fast: Easy and Elegant Food that Soothes the Soul. There's tempting variety here and everything the subtitle promises. I never thought of Mushroom Strudel made with flaky phyllo dough, Curried Parsnip and Pear Soup (a fabulous combination of flavors), Polenta with Eggplant Parmigiana or Iced Chocolate Mousse as comfort foods, yet they sure soothe the soul and please the palate. Perhaps we could just call Ann's selections classy comfort food and be a little closer to the mark. This is food you'll want to cook. Sybil Pratt has been cooking up this column for more than five years.