musings about food, travel, creativity and life

“Comfort and Joy”

‘Tis the season of many emotions. Certainly this time of year can bring joy. There are parties with family and friends, Christmas Carol sing-alongs, and, if you’re lucky, tuba concerts… really–just imagine 200-plus tubas playing “Silent Night” in the Rotunda of a state Capitol!

But this season can also be a time of longing and sorrow, especially for those who have lost people they love. That’s when comfort steps forward. Sometimes that comfort needs to be extended to others dear to us or to community members; sometimes it needs to be extended to ourselves, as well.

I took a long walk on a very cold day this week to be with some sad, nostalgic feelings I was having. I was missing my parents. I was missing their spirit, their personalities, their companionship. I conjured up as many visual memories as I could of all the festive family Christmas gatherings we had shared and all the Italian goodies that accompanied them.

I had already surrounded myself with many of those treats–fresh pesto sauce and home made pasta, biscotti for dunking, and torrone, a chewy almond honey nougat candy, with a traditional wrapping featuring a Florentine woman in her elegant garb. And every morning I enjoyed pieces of panettone, a light egg sweet bread with raisins, a mainstay of my Christmas holidays.

After my walk, I felt better. When I returned home, I got out my family cookbook and looked through photographs, stories and recipes that conjured up even more memories. Then serendipity struck–twice. A friend messaged me questions about my mother’s lemon-corn risotto recipe. It was fun to pass on what I thought my mom might say. Then I received this one-line e-mail from a friend, “Nostalgia is a coat you wear to keep warm.” Wow. Thank you, Chad.

To cap off the day of reminiscing, I convinced John–it didn’t take much– to go to Lombardino’s, our favorite Italian-American restaurant in Madison. The current owners describe their cuisine as “the way Italians would cook if they lived in Wisconsin.” I like that! In addition, they say, “For us, there is comfort in food. There are memories in food. Our goal is to give guests not just a meal, but a memorable dining experience. Food nourishes our bodies, but we aim to nourish the heart and soul as well. ” Can you tell why I like this restaurant?

Just walking in there was like walking into one of the many restaurants my parents and I frequented in North Beach, San Francisco, in the 50’s. The decor with images of Venice here, Sicily there, the spirited conversations of families and friends, the warm wait staff. And the food–all was perfect from the sourdough bread and olive oil, to the Caesar complete with anchovies, to my Spaghetti alla Bolognese pasta and John’s Garganelli in Boar Ragu to the budino. And let’s not forget my homage to my dad and mom–a Manhattan!

That dinner provided a comforting conclusion to my day of nostalgia, a day I cherish for all the poignant memories.

Dear readers, I so appreciate your being a part of my community. I wish you a holiday season of “comfort and joy,” health and love. Buon Natale!



14 thoughts on ““Comfort and Joy””

  • I love your postings, Lynn,. They remind me to be grateful for what we have…family, friends, ….my own memories of childhood Christmas’s are a little bleak, so I’m particularly grateful for the Christmas’s of today. Lots of love to you and John. Carrick

    • I’m so glad that Christmases now give you pleasure, Carrick. May this one be another “plus” to add to your good memories♥️

  • What a sweet post Lynn. Our parents are always with us 💙
    It is wonderful to be able to honor and remember them with fun traditions from childhood. I was even thinking about making latkes but thought better of it.
    Derek and I wish The Archers a joy filled Snowy Christmas in Wisconsin. Take a look on my Facebook page to see how we have been celebrating the season. Cheers to you my friend and all of our wonderful parents 🎄

    • Wow! I just got on Facebook, the first time in a long time, to see your escapades. It all looks glorious. Yay for you both. Enjoy❣️ (And I think you should reconsider those latkes…)

  • This post is absolutely perfect! Sweet, nostalgic and full of heart. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. ❤️

  • Wonderful words, Lynn. Nancy and I are thinking of you and John his Christmas. Wishing you all the best for a wonderful holiday, Call us when you get home..we need to get together..Steve and Nancy

  • Thank you for your beautiful message. May your wishes be fulfilled with love and joy Blessings to you and yours. Happy New Year ❤️

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