It's clear that the tragic events of September 11 have affected all of us in some way. For many, comfort has been found in the kitchen. The craving for comfort food rages as Americans and others deal with fear and loss. "Appetites are roaring," says Barbara Haber, a culinary historian at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. "People seem not only be eating as if there's no tomorrow, they're cooking as well." While it's too early for hard statistics, the signs are there. Baskin-Robbins reported a 4 percent increase in sales in the week ending Sept. 16. Restaurant owners talk of tables that have emptied as patrons' social calendars have filled up with spur-of-the-moment potlucks with friends and family. Sara Schneider, senior food editor of Sunset Magazines, says socializing may be more on peoples' minds now because the attack made it so clear that friends and family are precious and life is short. Working parents for whom "gourmet" has meant "anything but takeout" report sudden urges to whip up homemade soups and eggplant lasagnas. Magazines and newspaper food sections are filled with recipes for homey and comforting one-pot meals. For some, the urge to comfort via the stomach is padding waistlines. "This has been a difficult couple of weeks for a lot of people," said Weight Watchers International spokeswoman Linda Carilli.
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