Tacos: My New Comfort Food

by Jenn on January 18, 2011

in Gluten Free,Seafood

Fish Tacos

What makes comfort food so….darn comforting?  Why do we get cravings for foods that aren’t culinary masterpieces?  Why is it that a bowl of mac & cheese on a cool Winter’s day just puts me in a happy place? Or even say….gasp!…a packet of noodle soup?  Is the flavor of those dishes so out of this world that they are each deserving of their own Michelin star? No, of course not.  In fact, I’d argue that it has nothing to do with their flavor at all.  It has everything to do with where they take me.  Enjoying food is like having your own personal time-travel machine or private jet.  In just a few bites, I can be quickly transported through time and space, to specific memories, people, places.  Well, in my mind at least.

Mac and cheese, cooked with some stewed tomatoes and ground beef all in one big casserole bowl.  Not exactly restaurant material, eh? Ha, at home, we even named the dish “mush”. It was perfect when you were six years old, had a sore throat, and just wanted to cuddle up on the couch with your mom and a blanket wrapped around you.  It’s certainly no culinary star, but to me it will always be comfort food, because every time I make it I remember her taking care of me when I was little.

I think sometimes we have a tendency to underestimate the power that food holds over us.  It can make us laugh or cry, bring us joy or sadness, or a myriad of other emotions on so many different levels.  Trying to view food as a mere vehicle for calories and nutrients misses a bit of the point.  It is the meal, and the life experiences around which the food is eaten that give it meaning and power.  And as such, we can use our memories to create new comfort foods.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living thousands of miles away from friends and family, it’s that new traditions can be forged just as easily as the old ones are enjoyed.  Tacos are my new comfort food.

When I think of tacos, I don’t think of “omg those were SO amazing the last time I ate them, I want to taste that again!”  No.  Instead, I think back to our time in FL at Thanksgiving, all the fun memories with family and friends, and remembering how lucky I was to be given the opportunity to see such beauty and color:

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Afterall, that is what is important, right?  Otherwise how else would we deem certain foods “comfort food” or choose to make the same familiar plates time and again? Have you ever noticed that no two people have exactly the same set of foods they would label as “comfort”?  You know by now that I am always one to fawn over flavorful food, but there is often more than taste alone that brings me back to a dish, that gives me a craving for memories of those familiar bites.  Sometimes, even the mere concept of a dish is all I need, as it was in this case.  Not too far down this beach was a little outdoor bar & grill where we all gathered as a family, just having a grand time laughing and enjoying each other’s company, eating tacos with fresh caught seafood and bright fruity notes, and enjoying the many colors of the changing day over the ocean.

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Yeah, the photo above is a sunrise, and no the bar was not open then.  But you get my point, it was pretty, we had fun, this pic is just showing you some of the pretty of FL beaches that week. :)

So last weekend, Ryan and I both got a hankering for tacos.  Maybe it was the sudden warm-spell here en Suisse (a whole 12 ºC!) that prompted a desire for bright citrus flavors, or maybe we just wanted some lighter fare after trying to get through our gazillion servings of rich cassoulet.  Whatever the reason, tacos hit the spot, and the first thing Ryan said to me was, “Remember that awesome place we all enjoyed together on the beach at Thanksgiving? I miss that week so much.”

Yep, tacos just elevated themselves to the status of comfort food.

Also linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays and Seasonal Sunday

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Kori January 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Yum, I love fish tacos too! And I also love adding mango :) I haven’t made them in awhile, but your photo is making me crave them, so I’ll have to add them to our menu for next week!

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Jenn January 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Thanks! Enjoy :)

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Tiffany January 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Awesome pictures! Fish tacos make me think of San Diego, which makes me think of nana, which makes me smile. Thanks for making me smile today!

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Jenn January 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Aww thank you :)

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Chef Dennis January 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Your images are breath taking!!
and whats not to love about taco’s! you certainly have taken them to the next level with those great ingredients. I would love to dig into those taco’s!
Cheers
Dennis

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Jenn January 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Thanks! Yeah, tacos are a bit of an exotic food here en Suisse, maybe that makes me miss them more :)

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Courtney January 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I love what you said about the power of food. That’s so true. The tacos look beautiful and delicious!

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Jenn January 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Thanks Courtney!

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats January 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

That’s so funny you mention tacos as comfort food as I recently was trying to recreate salmon tacos I had had in San Francisco. I did not post a picture (the light that night was atrocious), but did post the leftovers (which ended up in the form of a salad) here and talk about how I was trying to recreate a flavor profile from a vacation: http://www.citylifeeats.com/2011/01/todays-lunchbox_11.html (the light is not much better in the post – morning light is hard in winter).

Speaking of light – I am so conscious of it, but even more after reading your fantastic post on light and photography. Thank you!!

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Jenn January 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Thanks Valerie, your salmon salad looks great! Glad the post helped you :)

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Rosa January 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

That is also one of my favorite comfort foods (homemade only). Your tacos look droolworthy and I would order them in a restaurant if they were as good as yours!

What a colorful shot!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Jenn January 18, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Thanks Rosa! Ha yeah, I haven’t been blown away by Mexican restaurant fare in Suisse-Romande yet…. but I may yet be surprised!

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Gabby@FoodChowDown January 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I love Taco Night… Grand Lux makes these terrific little fish tacos. Their sauce makes the dish!

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Jenn January 18, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Sounds interesting! I didn’t use any sauce here really, just whatever was with the fish as they were cooking I poured in the bowl that had the fish. Those red chiles though, they added some serious kick :)

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torviewtoronto January 19, 2011 at 12:51 am

delicious food and pictures

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:40 am

Thanks!

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Christine January 19, 2011 at 1:30 am

These look delicious – as always!

The funny thing is that I was planning on trying fish tacos in the next week, so you’ve made my recipe search very easy and over!

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:41 am

ha what a great coincidence, hope you enjoy!

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steph@stephsbitebybite January 19, 2011 at 4:37 am

I used to be so skeptical when it came to fish tacos. But, having recently been served them by my mom (I feel like I’m a little kid telling this story) I have found a new love!! Your tacos look so refreshing! That’s what’s great about using fish, they’re comfprting but not too heavy

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thanks! Yeah I love that these are a bit lighter fare :)

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Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris January 19, 2011 at 8:02 am

I must admit tacos is not part of my culture…so I never crave for tacos…but this looks mouthwatering!!!!

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Thanks! They are so simple, and yet quite addictive :)

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Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite January 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Jenn, After spending time in Mexico and eating countless tacos, I can totally understand why they have become your comfort food. I could eat them every day! As I am just learning to like fish, these would be perfect for me :-)
Spectacular pictures!

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Thanks Mardi! Yes this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy seafood & fish!

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branny January 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Yum! We love taco night, too.

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Thanks Branny!

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Jill Colonna January 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I’m in awe of your beautiful photos. Great site and these tacos look delicious. Well done!

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Thanks so much!

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Gluten Free Diva January 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Fish Tacos. I would’ve never believed it until I made them. They’re easy and delicious, and SO gluten free. In terms of memories, hmmmm, I have so many fond memories (Since New Year’s, I’ve been in a “Count Your Blessings” perpetual state of mind), and I would so that most if not all of them have food as their starting point!

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Ha funny how food finds its way to every part of our lives :) And yeah, tacos are so easy to be gluten free!

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Amy @ The Nifty Foodie January 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm

These sound delicious and so simple! I’ve been wanting to try fish tacos for a while, too. Hrm…

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Jenn January 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Thanks Amy! Yeah it’s super simple – faster than traditional beef tacos I think because fish cooks so quickly. I didn’t use any salsa on my tacos, but you could definitely add that as well :)

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InTolerantChef January 20, 2011 at 4:11 am

To us tacos are full of rich, meaty filling like chilli, along with the salads and cheese. The fish tacos look so good, but I will need to get my head around them.

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Jenn January 20, 2011 at 8:10 am

Yeah, I just view it as fish with fresh fruit & veggies in a corn shell. Trying to keep it simple :)

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Jenny @ meltingbutter January 20, 2011 at 10:49 am

have not eaten tacos for so long…thanks for reminding me about them :) Yours looks so fresh and healthy!

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Jenn January 20, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Thanks!!

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Lindsay @Eat, Knit, Grow January 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Wow! Those look awesome! So bright and fresh!! Congrats on the top 9! Well deserved.

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Jenn January 20, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Thanks! It was such a nice surprise to see today :)

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Mike @theflavorjunkie January 20, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Jenn, what a great post. Really vivid and beautiful pictures. The fish tacos look mouth-watering. So good!

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Jenn January 21, 2011 at 7:45 am

Thanks so much !

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Gwen~healthymamma January 21, 2011 at 2:37 am

Wow, so very pretty! I love fish tacos but havn’t made them in a while. I think in trying to try different foods I’ve forgotton about our fav’s, our comfort foods. Beautiful pic and recipe1

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Jenn January 21, 2011 at 7:46 am

Thanks! Yeah comfort foods are always a must to return to after a time :)

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Rachel January 21, 2011 at 2:40 am

You make a simple taco salad look absolutely amazing! I want to devour it. Thank you for sharing. And you have a wonderful site here. I will be referring it specifically to a couple friends with Celiac disease.

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Jenn January 21, 2011 at 7:46 am

Thanks – I hope they find it useful!

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Sarah-Jane January 21, 2011 at 2:44 am

What lovely photos – the colours in your tacos are so bright and vibrant. Beautiful. Congratulations on Foodbuzz top 1 !

Sarah-Jane

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Jenn January 21, 2011 at 7:48 am

Aww thanks!

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Denise January 24, 2011 at 1:04 am

Stopping by from Seasonal Sunday, and wanted to let you know that these tacos look so great! I will definitely be making a note to make these!

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Jenn January 24, 2011 at 3:27 am

Thanks, hope you enjoy them!

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