We all have them. Those favorite foods that we turn to when we’ve had a fight with a significant other, when the work day was like walking through a war zone, when you feel like you’ve been beat up one side and down the other, when things are just not going well at all, when we need a little bit of warmth for the soul. Yes, I just used the phrase “warmth for the soul.” Next thing you know, I’ll be planning office parties and wearing Christmas sweaters. It could happen?
Seriously, I found that when I moved away from Texas, my favorite comfort foods from home became even more important to me. So, here are some of my top Texas comfort foods and the memories they stir up like a nest of Yellow Jackets. (Or something much nicer that warms the soul but that I can’t exactly think of right now.)
- Real Texas barbecue– I spent my childhood Sundays soaking up the smell of mesquite wood from my dad’s barbecue pit and smoker. Mom would make her magic marinades, and Daddy would man the pit. You haven’t tasted perfection until you’ve had their barbecue, whether it’s brisket sealed with that crisp black goodness of flavor or ring sausage that literally bursts with juice when you take a bite. No sauce needed. It’s rare for me to find good barbecue up here in Colorado, but every now and then, I’ll chance upon something that’s at least edible. And even mediocre barbecue takes me back to weekends on the Guadalupe River, trying to avoid the water moccasins, and swinging into the river from a rope tied to an old oak tree. And river mud. Lots of river mud between my toes.
- Texas chili – It has to be my mom’s recipe, of course, with just a kick of spice. My mom always seemed to have a pot of chili in waiting, and now we celebrate the first snowfall at our home at the top of a mountain each year by making a pot of Mom’s chili. Secret recipe hint: It has cornmeal in it. (Funny side note: When I first reread this, I had left out the “a” in front of “My mom always seemed to have a pot” … so it read “My mom always seemed to have pot.” Frankly, that would have been a way more interesting childhood.)
- Potato soup – I know it’s a common theme here, but my mom makes the Best Potato Soup Ever. She always made it for me when I was feeling under the weather, no matter how busy she was as a working mom of three crazy kids.
- Beer Nuts– Yes, I’m talking about those sweet-salty nuts you find at convenience stores next to the Slim Jims and teriyaki jerky. My dad loves Beer Nuts, and they remind me of him.
- Peach ice cream – Nothing says summer to me more than peach ice cream. One of the real treats of visiting my Mammaw and PawPaw back in the day was fishing for catfish in their tank (let me know if you non-Texans need a translation of a tank) and then cooling off with their homemade peach ice cream … with fresh peaches and lots of cream and the perfect amount of sweetness. I have yet to find a commercial brand that makes the cut, but I keep trying. (Sorry, Blue Bell. I’ve known Elizabeth Hart’s ice cream and sir, you’re no Elizabeth Hart.)
Now (maybe because I have a problem?), I also have Colorado comfort foods — but I’ll cover those in another post, because I’ve made myself really homesick and hungry now. Where are those Beer Nuts when you need ‘em?
What’s your favorite comfort food? What does it remind you of? I wanna know!
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