Living Large in Northeast Ohio
March 5, 2016
The local Poles and Slavs crave pierogies (polish ravioli made with potato dough and fried up in butter and onions). I don’t care for them. My wife likes them. She also likes Halushki (noodles and cabbage), another Eastern European favorite. One of the best meals in my life was in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We went to the Hungarian Restaurant (no longer there) and devoured a plate full of stuffed cabbage, which were to die for. I don’t like Hungarian food but I was so hungry it was any port in a storm time. And don’t forget Kielbasa. Again, I am not a fan…but at parties someone always brings a bowl of cut up Kielbasa fried up in brown sugar and butter, and I always take more than my fair share. Maybe I’ll convert.
You can find Greek comfort food at any of the local Greek festivals. I love spanakopita, grape leaves and baklava. St. John’s in Boardman also does a really great baked fish. I can’t get hyped up about Lebanese food, although I went to a seminar the other night given by a guy from Columbus, who was thrilled to be in Youngstown because he can get real Lebanese food. He is Lebanese of course. You used to be able to get good Jewish comfort food here. Kravitz Delicatessen delivers locally along with just about any other kind of ethnic comfort food. Matzah and blintzes and corned beef…Lordy am I hungry. Corky and Lenny’s in Cleveland is also good for a fix.
Finally there are the hot spot sandwiches. If we aren’t at home but need some hearty comfort food, we head over to Thanos for a hot roast beef sandwich or restaurant turkey dinner.
We are fortunate to live in an area where there is such a variety of food to choose from when life gets yucky. Today is one of those days. Would someone please make me a serving of pastene with a stick of butter and extra salt like my Grandma used to make?
When it is snowing outside…when the Dow is tumbling…when a Democrat occupies the White House…when a Republican occupies the White House...it’s time for comfort food. Some people eat to live. I live to eat. I LOVE eating. When I’m happy, I eat. When I am depressed, I eat. I am sure there is some psychological reason for it, but I don’t care. I love food. So when the going gets tough, I get comfort food.
What kind of comfort food do you like? Sunday dinner with chicken and mashed potatoes is always at the top of somebody’s list. Then there is pot roast and Swiss steak. Mac and cheese is another favorite. I like mine plain. I watched a Tyler Florence blurb about making it with peas and onions. I don't think so!!!
The universal comfort food is chicken soup. My mother used to make chicken soup. My father didn't like it and called it hot Kool Aid. He liked Campbell's chicken soup. There is no accounting for taste. For the kids there is grilled cheese and PB and J sandwiches. Of course, now one has to have gourmet peanut butter. I prefer Jiff!!
Then there is the junk comfort food. I like potato chips…and Cheesies. I really like Cheesies. Chocolate is also great. We had two boxes of Philadelphia Candy in the pantry which I tried to resist. I had a really bad day yesterday and succumbed to temptation. Apparently my wife did the same thing as both boxes were empty except for two, lonely caramels. Caramels do not qualify as comfort…unless sprinkled with sea salt.
Comfort food to you may not be comfort food to me. In Youngstown, ethnicity determines what may be your favorite comfort food. Being Italian means wedding soup makes the cut followed by either cavatelli and veal parm. This is serious stuff. When my son went to Ohio State several years ago he complained continually about how he missed the local food. We directed him to a place that would fulfill that need, although it is faux comfort food. Not really the same thing. More like methadone. Nevertheless, it gets you through the night. (In case you are interested, it is the Blue Danube Tavern on High Street…the Blue Dube).