My Favorite Comfort Food

A light and pointless (?) blog post from a prompt, while I muse on posting some other stuff….

It’s odd, the first thing I think of is something I haven’t eaten in many months, but it is THE comfort food for me: macaroni & cheese.

Not any old macaroni & cheese*, but precisely the one that we ate every single Friday (go Catholics!) of my childhood, my mother’s version of a Good Housekeeping recipe from 1963. That recipe book fell open to that page; that or the hamburger stroganoff recipe. It took me at least a year after I was living on my own before I figured out mom’s exact modifications, which involve making it even MORE mid-century American than it was to start with. Velveeta FTW!

As a food, it’s simple: fat and starch, creamy and hot, which makes it an ideal wintertime comfort food. It’s easy to make and is done reasonably fast, but has enough steps to feel like you’re actually cooking something. It doesn’t microwave especially well, and that gives it a certain immediacy that’s oddly comforting.

But beyond that, because of “every Friday” and “mom’s modifications,” it has all this resonance emotionally as well, of the good parts of childhood, eating together. The ritual of making mac & cheese has all these particular touchstones: the double-boiler in particular, since that was the only thing it was ever used for when I was growing up. (True story: when I moved out in college and relatives gave me dishes for Christmas, my sister gave me a double-boiler specifically so I could make myself mac & cheese.)

So there it is, the platonic ideal of a comfort food, at least for me.


* I did not eat the stuff in a box until I was in college, when (alas) I ate quite a bit of it: box mac & cheese was in the imagery of a poem I had published when I was younger.

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2 Replies to “My Favorite Comfort Food”

  1. Sadly, I never had “the real thing,” in all its mid-20th Century glory, until I was an adult. The blue box was everything. However, now that I’m married to someone from the edge of the south (who was actually distantly related to Col. Sanders – no kidding!), I have learned the glories of the genuine article.

    As for me, my comfort food (discounting a chicken dish my mother adapted from the first Julia Child cookbook, suitable only for special occasions) is school cafeteria spaghetti. It’s about as Italian as I am, but it’s warm and carb-y, and has, as does your favorite, the taste of childhood: filling food eaten with friends when life was comparatively carefree.

    I like this prompt. I haven’t thought about that in a very long time.

  2. Mac & Cheese is the best way to teach a kid to cook. NOT the nasty boxed kind either LOL Us kids (4 in my family) demanded taking it a bit upscale and got the parents to buy good colby-jack. Yumm-ummm!

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