Thursday, January 31, 2013

How comfort food got its name

Week 3 in the Me before Mom series, hosted by Carla at All of Me Now, asks the question:

What was your favorite home cooked meal as a kid? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents, sights, and flavors.

My mom found out she had MS when I was 8 years old. She had to go on disability when it got too difficult for her to work. I think she felt guilty about her illness and how it affected my brother and I. She was the most loving parent and, though we had very little money, she always made sure we had home cooked meals. When we celebrated, we got home baked sweet treats. When we were sad or had a particularly rough day, she would make us our favorite meal. This is probably why I associate food with comfort. It was the one thing she could control when her body would not always cooperate.

My mom put a big focus on us eating dinner as a family. Even though our family was just me, my mother, and my brother, we ate together almost every night. No eating in front of the TV, no distractions, just dinner together where we would talk about our day and things that were going on in our lives. As an adult I look back on our dinners together and am glad she didn't let us chomp mindlessly to some show. I now make that a priority in our house and the only food eaten in front of a TV is on football days!

My mom was originally from Indiana. She grew up with all-American meals and we had much of the same. I can pretty much recite our menu staples: Fried Chicken, Spaghetti with Ragu and garlic bread, Polish sausage (always dipped in a combo of ketchup and mustard) and fried potatoes, Americanized ground beef tacos, and my favorite, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and canned corn. While I try to make healthier, more diverse meals for my family, I still make that meatloaf meal. it is not some fancy multi ingredient meatloaf. It is the recipe on the back of the Lipton onion soup mix and I love it...and so do my kids. The only thing I hated about that meal was the "combo". My brother, like all little brothers, lived to torture me. I was a weirdo special and didn't like my food to touch. My brother knew this and would purposely try to gross me out by making his combos. On meatloaf night a combo would be taking his piece of wheat bread, buttering it, layering on meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and ketchup and making sure I knew how much he was enjoying it as he ate. Bleh. Thankfully, I have moved past my food issues because my kids make combo bites of that meal now, minus the wheat bread.

While times have changed and I have grown up, certain meals can always bring me back to my childhood. I cherish these memories and hope I am building some for my own kids.


  1. this takes me back to childhood memories, too - thanks for sharing. I was also 'anti food touching,' but I've moved past it ;)

  2. Your Mom sounds like she was a wonderful person and mother. She was right that eating together without distractions should be a priority. Beautiful memories!

  3. Your mom sounds like an extraordinary woman. I'm so happy my parents stressed the importance of family meals with no distractions, too. It's something I'm definitely going to do when we have kids. Oh, and I was the same way about food not touching. I've grown out of it for the most part! :)

  4. I love the emphasis on eating as a family, WITHOUT distractions. I hope my kids remember that as well. Meatloaf....definitely a comfort food. And of course you can't forget the mashed potatoes.

  5. How wonderful that your mom made family dinners such a priority. Its funny how it's not the fanciest meals that stick out to us, but the ones with the most memories. (Oh, and my son is the same way about food touching :>)

  6. Family dinner time = memories and post likes this!

  7. My parents used to take the phone off the hook at dinner and we ate together as a family, every night. No tv here either. Even as I got older, if I was going out afterwards and my friends showed up early, they had to sit on the front porch and wait! Sacred time! :)

  8. I love to hear that families eat together. With all that is going on in our daily lives, especially now, its so important to make time for a meal together. Its something you never forget, regardless of what is served. I still don't like my food to touch! HA!

  9. We had the same rules at dinnertime growing up - no TV, no phones, no distractions - just us together talking - I have the best memories from family dinners! It was a priority for me to create the same tradition in my family.

  10. dinnertime at my house has so devolved these past few months - I agree its so important to sit as a family at the table.

  11. I completely understand the whole "no touching" thing. I used to beg my mom to buy me the plates with different sections, just for this purpose haha

  12. Your mom sounded amazing and I love that you still make the meatloaf dinner, to carry your old memories into your new ones. It's such a sacred and special thing to eat dinner together as a family, with no distractions. We do the same (except for football also) and sometimes on a Friday night, we are more casual. I love reading these stories so much. I feel like I'm getting to know all of you more and more! XO

  13. We're sticklers for eating dinner together at the table, too.

    I'm curious. What part of Indiana did your Mom call home?

  14. This makes me think of my childhood so much! I love your rituals and your family meal, and how you are still carrying it on. How special is this!

  15. Wow, what precious memories. And now I need to ask my mom for her meatloaf recipe because I'm craving it. Yum.

  16. My kids get upset if we don't have family dinner. We sit and everyone has to tell the best part of their day.

  17. Oh yes! I have SO many memories tied to my Mom's awesome meals. Fried chicken, beef stroganoff, spaghetti. She is an awesome cook and I remember so many great family meals around the table and of me, my brothers and my Dad scarfing down her meals! Glad your family always had time together around the dinner table too. I think it's important!

  18. Haha! that made me laugh about your brother torturing you and mixing up the food combos, such an older sibling thing to do! too funny! :)

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What you talkin' bout Willis??