When the world around you is spinning around at a horrifyingly quick pace, all you need is a bit of cheese. That’s what I think, anyway.
And to a certain extent, this article is about… cheese. But it’s also about the things that give us comfort.
I’m fairly certain cheese is an unverified Wonder of the World. It’s got to be; you can melt it, bake it, stretch it, eat the shredded version straight from the bag in the middle of the night like some foraging mouse, did I say ‘melt it’? It’s salty and sweet, hard and soft, stretchy and firm. And of course, cheese branches out into all those dishes like mac & cheese, quesadilla, fondue, and cheesecake. You can’t really go wrong with cheese being an ultimate comfort food. BUT don’t get me started on American cheese. In fact calling this piece of yellow plastic “cheese” feels absolutely disrespectful to my lovers like cheddar and gruyere and mascarpone.
However, that is an (incredibly biased on my part) argument for another day. Perhaps a Yay or Nay: What is American Cheese? Is It Even “Cheese”? Let’s Find Out! (roughly inspired by BoJack Horseman).
2. BoJack Horseman
Speaking of BoJack Horseman reminds me that I’ve recently acquired a taste for this Netflix series. Saying it’s a good show feels like an understatement. To put it in perspective, I watch it at the speed of 1.25 just so I can cram in more BoJack in the same amount of time (I don’t know if you’ve done it, but that’s how good BoJack is).
Oddly enough, while this show is somewhat of a comfort for me, it also taught me what comfort isn’t. Comfort isn’t always pretty.
BoJack deals with the hot mess that is his life by wallowing in an endless void of drinks, drugs and meaningless sex. Princess Carolyn seeks comfort in taking care of other people. Diane is often searching for the next best thing. Sarah Lynn is, at the best of times, in a psychedelic high. And sometimes I wonder if Mr. Peanutbutter’s jubilance is a way to diverge from the fact that he really is sad on the inside. The activities these characters engage in for the sake of comfort were an escape from their sad, sad lives. So yes, comfort isn’t always a pretty thing.
Comfort isn’t always alcohol or Netflix movie marathons. Comfort isn’t always getting high or eating ice cream. Instead, take comfort in being financially responsible. Take comfort in making yourself breakfast in the morning as a proper way to start your day. Take comfort in finishing up that piling homework instead of leaving it for the next day (we both know you’ll be scrambling to finish it tomorrow). Comfort is, unfortunately, doing uncomfortable things like eating those vegetables or drinking that water. Like not going on YouTube because we felt our 10 minutes of study time justified a much-needed 1-hour-long break. Like saving money instead of buying coffee, trying to fit in with that “keeping up” lifestyle. Like not binge eating on a Friday night because you dieted the entire week. Sometimes comfort is being real with ourselves and realising that our constant need for gratification can only provide temporary happiness.
I don’t believe I can ever tire of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Crashing proves it. I can watch it multiple times and never get bored (and I actually have!). There is no real important lesson to be learned and the storyline is rather simple yet I find Crashing enchanting in its own right. This show is just comedic gold and I find myself turning to it when the outside world becomes too much and I’m in dire need of English humour. The plot follows Lulu (Phoebe both wrote and starred as the main character, talk about multi-talented) as she joins a group of property guardians living in an abandoned hospital, bringing along her quirkiness and ukulele. The contrasting personalities of each character is probably what makes this series uplifting and a plain joy to watch. This show is comfort and chaos, heart and humour, fights and friendship all blended together in a 6-episode season (that is painfully too short for me). This show is something that gives me comfort and I hope you can find comfort in it too.
I couldn’t agree more about the cheese, Asa. I’m also going to binge BoJack because this is the second time it has come up in an Echo Media article that I co-authored. On the topic of TV shows, I have a personal favourite — Ben 10. I know it’s an odd choice, but that is the coolest thing about comfort; it doesn’t need to make sense.
1. Ben 10… and 10 more movies/TV shows because I’m bad at picking favourites
Disclaimer — I mean the original Ben 10, from the 2005 TV series up until Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. I used to rush home after school to catch the latest episode, and rewatching the series a decade later still brings me the same comfort. In case cartoon aliens do not appeal, perhaps cartoon ghosts might. Danny Phantom elicits the same nostalgic feeling as the former, and I must admit there is much comfort in revisiting childhood favourites. I could list dozens of cartoons, but I need to mention some sitcoms too. F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Modern Family never fail to make me laugh out loud and get me through some of the toughest times. Meanwhile, Masterchef and Queer Eye are the go-to outside of fiction for me. I also make it a point to have annual Star Wars and Harry Potter marathons as all of us should. You might find this last one unusual, but I believe there is a certain comfort in horror movies and television shows. I never watch them alone, but enduring jump scares and ominous music amidst a group of friends or loved ones has to be one of the most comforting experiences of all. I’d recommend The Haunting of Hill House and the Insidious movies.
2. Ribena, Koko Krunch, and Cheezels… The ultimate comfort foods
I can’t resist Ribena, much less if it is packaged like this.
See? Irresistible. I believe comfort food knows no bounds. It could be a homecooked recipe that carries generations of culture and heritage, or grape juice in a squish bottle. Likewise, I grew up in Ipoh, a food haven that boasts endless breakfast options. Nasi lemak, roti canai, dim sum, pancakes, noodles… name it and they have it. Hence, I was bound to raise some brows the first time I proclaimed that Koko Krunch held the top spot for me. Hear me out. I don’t think Koko Krunch is the tastiest food to ever exist, but there’s just something so comforting about cold milk and chocolate cereal. I feel the same about Cheezels. Is it the best movie snack? Nah, it’s no salted caramel popcorn. Is it even real cheese? I don’t know. Is it better than Super Rings? Yes. Yes, it is. Jokes aside, I believe all of us tend to overrate some things that aren’t all that spectacular, but that’s the best part. You might be Team Super Rings, or worse, a fan of Riverdale, but that’s OK… because no one has to understand the love, or downright obsession, except you.
3. Hobbies? Hmm…
I hate being asked, what’s your favourite hobby? I have no idea. I discover new hobbies all the time, as we all do. It’s human nature to gain and lose interest in things. Often, people are expected to pick their passions, be it a certain sport, musical instrument, or pastime. You’re expected to fit into a box. Football fan, huh? Foodie? Bookworm? Gamer? Otaku? It’s stifling to choose. Instead, live free and explore different hobbies or interests. You might read six books in a week, then go six months without ever flipping a page. You could spend hours, even years, on a certain sport or instrument and all of a sudden lose the passion for it. You might have claimed to hate K-Pop until BTS and BLACKPINK came along. Just lean into things that feel exciting, challenging, comforting, or even daunting. You’ll never know if you never try!
Written by: Asareel and Karran