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What's Your Comfort Food?


Published February 20, 2008 at 7:46 a.m.

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!)