Thursday, March 19, 2009

In search of comfort food

Got together with friends for a little post P-I pity party featuring "Government Cheese and Macaroni", though it tasted too good to live up to that moniker. I do not believe Uncle Sam doles out Gruyere.  For a while, it seemed as if every restaurant just had to have its own tarted-up version of mac-and-cheese on the menu.

Traditional comfort foods seem to be lodged deep in our inner child. (Thank you Dr. Freud.) But cheesy pasta has never been my nostalgic drug of choice. When looking to unravel the knot in my gut, I head for Cream of Wheat or mashed potatoes, though certainly not on the same menu. Those were staples in my grandmother's repertorie, the feisty, Winston-smoking, South Dakota native who welcomed me into her kitchen as soon as I could stand on a stool. Cooking with Nana. How cliche, huh?

Thank goodness she taught me how to do more than boil water because I ended up having to cook dinner at age 9 for my brother and sister when our alcoholic mother left our alcoholic father. Man, that sounds so dark and Dickensian, but it wasn't as bad as all that in my revisionist history book. Messing around in the kitchen gave me great pleasure, even when things didn't always work the way they should. "Hey, we'll just keep the milk on the porch," my father declared when the fridge died, like he had invented some fun game called "roughing it, Kelly-style." 

The comfort food of that era was meatloaf. I tried to recreate my mother's version, but settled for the recipe on the back of the oatmeal container. Not bad. Not good either, but it served its purpose.

So, what does it for you? Vote in my little poll and I'll include a recipe for the winning entry in an upcoming post.


Veronica said...

Thanks for the props on my mac and cheese. My vote for the ultimite comfort food is lumpia, but that's because I'm Filipino!

Ben said...

Pho is good, but I've not really been exposed to it since moving to Seattle. On the other hand, any hot soup can really feel soothing and 'comforting' to me when I'm down.

As for the Mac & Cheese, it has to either be the box (although I really *really* like making Annie's with yogurt) or the spicy version from Beecher's. I honestly don't care for their traditional as much.

leslie.dines at; 901-289-4020 said...

And the winner, by a long shot: Mac-and-cheese. Recipe posted soon!!

Ken said...

White rice, cream of mushroom soup, can o' tuna. Noodles can substitute for the rice. Yum.