My wife returns from Milan in a couple of days. Yesterday at the grocery store I stopped by the ice cream freezer and considered purchasing a tub of Häagen-Dazs (Vanilla Swiss Almond being my comfort food of choice). Then I considered how crappy I'd feel after consuming the ice cream. Then I wondered how crappy I'd feel if I made, from scratch, and ate my childhood comfort food: tapioca pudding. I bought some tapioca beads from the local bulk foods store, went home and got to work.
Tapioca custard is ridiculously easy to make. The beads have to soak in water for two hours, but that's as fussy as it gets. After that, you scald two cups of milk, stir in 1/3 cup of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, two eggs and the drained tapioca. It gets thick pretty quickly, and smells wonderful. The girls were curious, so I let them dip a spoon into the mix. "I want extra much!" said the younger.
I gave each of them about a third of a cup, and myself about a half cup. They tucked in, but were unable to finish. "Sorry dad," said the one who'd asked for extra much. "It's really good, but it's also really fillsome."
It certainly is. I had no trouble finishing my portion, but I also had no desire for more. Contrast this with the ice cream. Man, when I get started on the HD, it's difficult to quit before I finish the little tub.
The more I think about that, the stranger it all seems. The basic ingredients, if the HD label is to be believed, are more or less identical: milk, sugar, eggs, flavoring. Tapioca is a glutinous thickening agent, but it doesn't add that much body to the custard. How is it that something I make on the stove is more filling than something made in a factory? What, exactly, is the "process" that makes processed foods more binge-able?