Exam com­fort food

These choices are a happy medium be­tween the ex­tremes of steamed kale and sweets

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD - COOK CARMEL SOMERS

Par­ents and chil­dren of­ten have a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion on what to eat dur­ing exam times. Last week, I talked about brain food and nu­tri­tion but I am con­stantly re­minded by my daugh­ters that we all need bal­ance and there is al­ways room for com­fort food. This week I have asked my daugh­ter, Ellen – who has done her Leav­ing Cert twice and is a big pro­moter of com­fort food – to share her views with you.

“My mother wrote last week that nu­tri­tion is im­por­tant for ex­ams, that mid- Leav­ing Cert, stu­dents should cling des­per­ately to brain foods rich in vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and fi­bre to keep things healthily mov­ing along as they sludge through ex­ams. She’ll also tell you that ad­e­quate hy­dra­tion is the dif­fer­ence be­tween a clear head for English Pa­per 1 and a fren­zied at­tempt at try­ing to spell “ono­matopoeia”. I can ver­ify that, sci­en­tif­i­cally, she’s dead on. I can’t negate those facts. “But let’s talk emo­tions. “The Leav­ing Cert is one of the strangest sit­u­a­tions you’ll ever find your­self in, and while it is im­por­tant to ad­e­quately nur­ture the body, the soul, now more than ever, needs in­tense nur­tur­ing, too. I’d rec­om­mend do­ing that with fre­quent walks and food ( and I’m not talk­ing pump­kin seeds).

“For the next two to three weeks, sixth- year stu­dents try to earn points in or­der to ac­cess their fu­ture. If that sad­dens your soul a lit­tle bit, I know your strife, for it was once mine too. When I did my Leav­ing Cert, my year group sur­vived on bags of rasp­berry bon­bons, and only a cheeky stuck- out blue tongue in the midst of a physics pa­per lifted us out of our study ruts for a few brief sec­onds.

“I can’t pos­si­bly rec­om­mend sur­viv­ing off the sweet counter for the ex­ams; how­ever, I can’t be a to­tal ad­vo­cate of steamed kale, ei­ther.

“Thank­fully Mother and I, be­ing con­stant com­pro­mis­ers, have found a sweet spot. It lies in the mid­dle of the spec­trum be­tween con­fec­tionary and pak choi. and that place is com­fort food. We’ve dis­cov­ered sev­eral things that blend the de­sir­able with the nu­tri­tious. Find the foods that bring some brief re­prieve from the monotony and hold them dear. If they have some­thing healthy in them, that’s just a happy co­in­ci­dence. These are chal­leng­ing weeks, and stu­dents need to be good to them­selves.”

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