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After blogging and commenting and talking about food availability in Chile, and eating pumpernickel bread with cream cheese and a marinated cucumber and red onion salad that reminds me of pickled herring, and the whole plate just kind of reminded me of childhood, I got to thinking more about comfort foods.

I guess if you’ve been mostly in the same place, your comfort foods change as you meet new people or try new dishes or revive old ones. You have the ones you grew up with, maybe mom’s mac and cheese with buttered crumbs (this one seems to loom large in many people’s gastronomic memories, though it’s not something I grew up with), or lasagne, or ridiculously-shaped semi-burned hamburgers with drippy melted cheese on a bun that falls apart (again, extrapolating, not much of a meat eater).

And if you move around, you might have different comfort foods that make you smile depending on where you’ve been. The first time I remember reinventing a comfort food was during the six months I spend in Central America in the early 90s. It seemed like every time I moved to a new place, illness would strike. It is worth noting that I do not have a stomach made of gossamer fabric and delicate lace, but the different fauna wreaked havoc with my digestive system on more than one occasion on that trip, and at least one time it was my fault for drinking an ancient, putrid, dusty can of diet pepsi on the Mexico-Guatemala border in a room at a brothel that the proprietors let me and my friend Debbie have, where the door went neither all the way to the ceiling nor all the way to the floor.

But I digress. On that trip, I developed a bit of a fear unpredictable tummy issues, and a tremendous love for oranges (which I had never eaten much of before) and sleeves of saltine crackers spread with refried beans. I think I ate this nutritious never-fail combination dozens of times, and never got sick. To this day, I can buy some saltines (called “american” crackers here) and whip up (or buy) some refried beans and call it a meal.

You would think that comfort foods would be set in stone from childhood, but from what I can see from putting myself under the microscope, that’s not necessarily the case. How about you? What’s a comfort food you’ve developed for yourself, or that’s come to you late in life, as a product of traveling or meeting new people or moving or marriage or whathaveyou?