Some comfort foods are totally non-negotiable during certain stressful times. Ice cream and chocolate are eaten in times of sorrow. Soup is sipped or slurped in times of grief. Pasta is consumed in great quantities whenever one feels as if the weight of the world rests on his or her shoulders. Spuds are gobbled up in one form or another when things are totally shot to hell and one’s mother isn’t around for comforting hugs.
And then, you have meatloaf – or, in their abbreviated form, meatballs – in gravy. This is my ultimate solution whenever the world is too much with me and too soon, when I crawl out of the office barely alive and possibly beyond recognition at the end of a day when things keep getting piled up on my desk and my inbox is full and people say they wanted everything yesterday.
There is something strangely soothing about this mix of minced beef and various seasonings, something that seems to fill up a void within one’s soul. Physicians looking for a pragmatic reason behind all this will say that the protein and iron in the beef help build up one’s stamina, the calcium will keep one’s bones strong, to say nothing of how the B-vitamins in the mix will help stave off stress. I, on the other hand, think that it is the notion of pure, glorious comfort food – something hot off the hob, rib-sticking, satisfying – that makes it so appealing in stressful times.
Lucky for me, there’s Cantina Deliciosa‘s spin on meatballs: beefy ones spiced with all the classic flavors of Mexico – cumin, black pepper, maybe a touch of chipotle and some minced jalapenos. The pan gravy that gets poured over it is ace and you get a crunchy strip of bacon, its smoky saltiness adding a delicious counterpoint to the strong beefy tang. Adding additional contrast is Cantina’s delightfully tart, vinegary coleslaw which features a mix of sweet and crunchy cabbage and shredded carrot – classic accompaniments for beef, but this time made vibrant, even exciting for one’s taste-buds. Throw in a cup of zesty, tomato-and-onion-filled Mexican rice, and you can eat your fill in order to be able to face the rest of your day.
And, in case you want to make your own meatloaf at home (definitely worth it because you can have numerous comforting meals and satisfying sandwiches), may I recommend my recipe for honey-bacon meatloaf with plenty of mushrooms. Serve with mashed potatoes and hot mushroom soup, and put a smile back on your face. :)