Some kids grow up with blankies or precious stuffed animals. Some grow up with both. But here’s some rudimentary science for you: We all grow up on food. And what is more comforting than that? We are all connected by our bodies’ need for those sweet, sweet calories. And I like to believe in these difficult, divisive times, that we all still share one thing in common: comfort foods.
This is especially near and dear to my heart because I like to eat. A lot. I like to eat a lot, meaning I enjoy it very much. And I like to eat A LOT, meaning I stuff my face whenever possible.
There’s nothing better than eating your favorite foods. Whether it’s the end of a long day, a celebration, or just a normal stupid Wednesday, your foods never let you down. But that doesn’t mean we can’t rank them. Here are my current top 5 forever foods, comfort foods that I could eat non-stop for the rest of my natural life.
CONFESSION: I’ve been doing Texas Threeways since I was 5 years old. I know. It’s aggressive. But there’s just something so right about how the Hard Times Cafe brought together the big three—pasta, meat, and cheese—for such a satisfying meal. All you NoVa/D.C. people know what I’m talking about.
Here are the basics of the meal:
Need I explain more? It’s pleasing to all. It’s one of those dishes you finish because the plate is empty, not because you are done eating. That is why it has a solid place on my list of forever foods.
It has since changed names, and now known as Texas chili mac. But old habits die hard, right?
I can eat pounds of this. Just last week, I had five bowls. Because I was hungry? No. Why did I stop at 5 bowls? Because I finished it.
After I tried it for the first time 8 years ago, I had a revelation. Amatriciana should be the only red meat sauce. It’s a simple sauce but is truly transformative. With only five or six ingredients, it’s difficult to mess up this sauce, but don’t get it twisted—there’s still lots of craftsmanship in doing it right. It takes more than just the right tomatoes.
It’s all about timing. Brown the pancetta before adding the onions, and adding the garlic at the right moment. This usually takes the skill of an 80 year-old Nonna. And sadly, not everyone can make it the same. My personal list includes four elite sauce preparers (you know who you are). Sorry mom, but your pot of sauce did not make the cut.
Now, here is where the good bread comes in. Even in the year 2017, it is impossible to get every drop of sauce from your bowl or the pot. Enter: bread. Clean that shit up! It will be the perfect end to the meal, or do it throughout the meal. Whatever floats your boat. But you will regret missing this key part of this forever food experience.
Everyone has their favorite sandwich. Maybe it’s a peanut butter and jelly—who doesn’t love a classic? Maybe you’re into something fancier, like a five cheese grilled cheese. Maybe it’s a cheesesteak from your favorite spot. Or it could be a chicken finger sub because sometimes a chicken finger needs to be dressed up a little more.
Well, my friends, a stinger does it all. Imagine your favorite cheesesteak WITH a beautiful chicken finger on top. Now you never have to choose between chicken or steak. Get them both!
These sandwiches are so satisfying it is hard to put down. Yes, they are filling, but when has being full stopped you? The pain that comes from stuffing four of these in your body is worth the pleasure. And far more tolerable than the regret of stopping at just one.
Plus all finger foods are easy to eat nonstop.
Let’s move on to the snacks. I love popcorn. Popcorn as a snack, popcorn at the movies (duh), popcorn when I’m bored. I can’t think of a bad time to eat a nice bowl/bag/vat of popcorn. I enjoy it all, but here is my favorite preparation, the way that gets it on my forever foods list.
Get a bag of buttered microwave popcorn. Not movie theater, not reduced sodium, NOT completely plain (fucking gross). Regular butter.
Next, microwave for 2:15 but listen. It might not need that long. Microwaves are different, each bag of popcorn is unique. So listen to the bag. Do what is best for her. Once she is cooked to perfection (most kernels are popped, NONE ARE BURNT), immediately place 2-3 tablespoons of salted butter into the microwave and melt, approximately 15 seconds
Meanwhile, pour half of the bag of popcorn into a large bowl. By now, the butter should be ready. Pour half of the butter on top of the popcorn in the bowl. Then top it all off with the rest of the popcorn, and the rest of the butter. Do not mix it. Just eat.
I should honestly trademark, or copyright this, whatever I need to do to earn royalties off of it. Because I promise once you try it this way, it will be one of your forever foods, too.
And finally, dessert.
Milkshakes are a throwback food for me. A staple. The type of dessert that literally helped raise me. As a picky kid, my parents tricked me into eating these when I fell behind on the weight chart. But hey, I can’t complain. I got milkshakes!
Usually, I am not a fan of Burger King. Their fries are the obvious worst of all fast food. But I will go to Burger King is for this milkshake. A Burger King chocolate milkshake. That’s how good they are.
So thick. So creamy. You can really taste the chocolate because I’m pretty sure it’s vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup mixed in. So it’s kinda like a vanilla-chocolate hybrid. And—quote me on this—the best thing on the Burger King menu.
There’s something about drinking your dessert that makes it easy to eat forever. There’s no need to be cute and share a milkshake with two straws. Order yourself three for yourself and enjoy the perfect dessert forever food.
Comfort foods make you feel good. They satisfy you more than just calorically—they also fulfill you deep down in your soul. It’s spiritual. So, maybe these forever foods won’t make you live forever. Maybe one day, my forever foods will be the death of me. But when has kale ever made you feel so good? So eat that third bowl of pasta. Get two sandwiches to start. Go ahead, make the whole box of microwave popcorn and order four milkshakes (they make drink carriers that size for a reason!!) Enjoy your comfort foods, forever.