In the Comfort Zone
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Comfort food means different things to different people. What may promote a sense of well-being in New England may not be what gives Southern comfort. Our parents’ favorite dishes just might be major turnoffs for us.
Baby Boomers were generally nourished with meat and potatoes and familiar grains. They fondly remember their mother’s meatloaf or the hot cream of wheat she made on cold mornings. Gen Xers snubbed hot cereal, and tucked a granola bar into their backpack instead. Each subsequent generation defines its own comfort food zone. Gen X and Millennials (Gen Y) have traveled more extensively and been exposed to more variety than their parents and grandparents. They have developed a taste for alternative proteins, appreciate ancient grains and seek out organic vegetables grown in the neighborhood. In general, they are more sophisticated, health-conscious, adventurous, and take a more liberal approach to trying new foods.
A proliferation of vegetarian restaurants across the country are helping to redefine the comfort zone. Food trucks entice young professionals out of their lairs with Falafel – the wildly popular Middle Eastern chickpea fritters. Quinoa, barley, amaranth, millet, faro and spelt may sound like foreign words to some, but these ancient grains, many of which are gluten-free, are as comforting to some Americans today as cream of wheat was in the past. Move over, meat and potatoes. Make room for a new comfort zone offensive charge from restaurants creating memories with fresh and dried veggies, beans, nuts and grains and more.
1. Adair Kitchen
Houston -- The Super Foods Bowl: brown rice is joined by kale, avocado, almonds, tomato, red onion and cucumber, tossed with a sweet ginger miso dressing.
2. Amsterdam Falafelshop
Washington, D.C., Boston, Annapolis and Arlington, Virginia -- Falafel balls are freshly fried for each order. Available with pita bread for sandwiches or in falafel bowls. 22 different sauces and toppings provide variety and incent return visits.
3. The Chicago Diner
(Meat-free since '83), two Chicago locations (Logan Square and Halsted) -- Truffle Mushroom Lentil Loaf: soul-warming casserole of mushrooms and lentils topped with white truffle mushroom sauce. Served with sautéed vegetables and roasted potatoes.
4. Dirt Candy, New York City
New York City (making culinary stars of individual vegetables) -- The Radish: black radish spaghetti, radish ravioli, radish greens pesto and horseradish.
5. Moosewood Restaurant
Ithaca, New York -- West African Groundnut Stew: a stick-to-your-ribs concoction of sweet potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, tomatoes and onions laced with peanut butter.