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February 20, 2008

What's Your Comfort Food?

Last night, I got takeout from Big Fatty's so that my sweetie and I could relax and not cook (and watch LOST). As I drove home with the smell of smoked meat making my nostrils tingle and my stomach growl, I tried to figure out why I love barbecue so damn much, and why I find it so comforting.

It's not something I associate with childhood or traveling. My only recollection of eating BBQ regularly is from when I went to UMass Amherst, and my dad and I would always stop at Bub's BBQ on the way back to Vermont. In fact, he often told me that he was only willing to pick me up because on each trip he got to sample ribs or chicken and their collection of all-you-can-eat sides. Thanks dad!

Anyway, I haven't yet solved the mystery of why 'cue is on my list of top 10 comfort foods, but here's the list itself (in no particular order):

~ Smoked meat with collard greens.
~ Potatoes in any way, shape or form.
~ Beef pho with lots of herbs and chile sauce.
~ Chicken livers sautéed in butter.
~ Numerous varieties of homemade soup made with my own stock. Like cabbage, kielbasa                 potato and white bean with some dill and paprika. Or borscht with a big dollop of sour cream.
~ Baked beans with hot dogs and melted cheddar cheese. I only use kosher or gourmet dogs.
~ Tom Ka soup: a coconut milk base scented with lemongrass. Delightful.
~ Braised meats with fruity sauces, such as pork belly with cider.
~ St. Patrick's Day dinner: corned beef, cabbage, potatoes simmered with pickling spices and served with tons of butter, mustard and horseradish.
~ Certain pasta dishes. Specifically homemade mac & cheese made with a roux and mountains of cheddar, spaghetti with really big meatballs, and lasagna. (When I  was a kid, I would have included Ramen noodles prepared with frozen peas and corn, with the flavor packet added in the beginning so as to best penetrate the noodles -- they say to add it at the end, but I was a rebellious child. I haven't eaten this in 8 or 9 years).

What are yours? (You don't have to list 10!)


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Oddly enough, cold cereal is my comfort food. Any kind, really. I think it has to do with childhood.


This probably sounds like a foodie's nightmare, but Annie's white cheddar shells with tuna, onions and peas (or some variation of same) does it for me. And of course, the classic: grilled cheese & tomato soup.


Hi Blake -- I can totally get down with the Annie's Mac 'n' Tuna thing. And I also love the grilled cheese & tomato soup combo, but I admit that I use organic tomato soup augmented with some cream or creme fraiche, and do Cabot cheddar on artisan bread rather than Kraft singles on white.

Mistress -- Although I couldn't figure it out in the case of my barbecue obsession, I think that most comfort foods tie in to childhood memories. We only ate serious cereals in my parents' house, so I think of cereal as a source of fiber and nutrients, but not necessarily pleasure or solace.


I have to whole-heartedly agree with corned beef, homemade mac & cheese, and BBQ. To this list, I'd like to add: bacon, chicken pot pie (Mom's homemade), and shepherd's pie (again, Mom's is the best).


Mmm...Beth, I love 'em all! I flirted with putting shepherd's pie on my list, but decided that I'd given potatoes enough attention already.

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