Tag Archives: tamale pie

Comfort When We Need It

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Green Bean Casserole made Wikipedia’s Comfort Food list

A long story made short:  I’m obsessing over what qualifies as comfort food.  I feel so comfort-needy!  Andy, meanwhile, is reminiscing about the foods he gagged on.

According to Wikipedia, “the term “comfort food” has been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood…they are believed to be a great coping mechanism for rapidly soothing negative feelings.”

A more descriptive quote comes from a very academic and very detailed and interesting article on the subject, found in The International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science: “most of us are soothed by the soft, sweet, smooth, salty and unctuous.”

Another quote from that article: Comfort foods are often prepared in a simple or traditional style and may have a nostalgic or sentimental appeal, perhaps reminding us of home, family, and/or friends.”

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I found a list of comfort foods on Wikipedia (where else!?) and from Ranker.com (which sounded like a good place to find rankings).  Wikipedia’s list clearly masses all regions of the U.S. into one, which seems odd.  I seriously doubt that Grits – or Red Beans and Rice – are comfort foods for someone who grew up in Maine – or that Chili Mac (a Midwestern favorite) is comfort to an Oregonian.  The ones I marked with an “X” made Ranker’s list – which seems to be more relevant to all areas of this country.  And I linked the ones that we already have given you recipes for (because, obviously, we are SO on top of things – and SO in need of comfort! :).

When questioned about their notions of comfort foods, my family responded in varying ways.  Hannah in Brooklyn, my brother in Fort Collins, and I all find comfort in Angel Food Cake and our grandmothers’ Swedish and German pancakes.  Joe, our son-in-law, fondly remembers his dad fixing him “hamburger gravy” over mashed potatoes.  (Andy might dub that an offshoot of the dreaded SOS – but we’ll forgive him for that.)

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SOS – Here’s the official recipe from the Army Quartermaster Corps (which my brother was once a part of).  You might want to downsize it a little, since it calls for 18 pounds of ground beef and serves 100.  Maybe I’ll try it for one of our “Dining In” dinners.  Want to come? 🙂

Our son Travis remembers his Grandma Gladys’s simple spaghetti recipe – made with hamburger.  Sara – ever the odd one out (just teasing, Sara 🙂 )- finds anything with ground meat – broken up, definitely not in patty form – satisfying, though she prefers those ground meat dishes to have an Asian theme.  Andy and his sister, Helen, fondly remember their mom’s tamale pie.  If there’s any unifier at all here among main dishes, it has to be ground meat.

So the jump to our three new comforting recipes – all with ground meat – was a no-brainer: my mom’s Super Simple Spaghetti, Tamale Pie, and – just for Sara – “Not Your Mother’s Chili” (which is both different and d-lish!).  We’ll offer up our pancake and angel food cake recipes at a later date. Continue reading

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