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What foods say "home at last" to you?

I work for an international company, and recently two of the (young, male) employees went back to their home cities, one to stay (Paris), one for a visit (Istanbul). I asked each of them separately what they most wanted to eat when they got there - and the answers were "my mother's chou farci" (whole stuffed cabbage, Paris) and "my mother's cabbage dolmas" (Istanbul). Interesting that the choices were some of the humblest foods to be had in each of these two gastronmomic capitals. It got me thinking - if I could go home to my mother's kitchen, what would I most want? Her macaroni and cheese, made with old Ontario Cheddar/white sauce, baked with field tomato slices and buttered crumbs on top; her pickled beets (wicked sour); sliced field tomatoes...and her first apple pie of the season, with new Macs and a slice of the cheese. What do you ask for - or wish you could ask for -when you go home, or what do you make for yourself after a long trip or just to make yourself feel grounded?

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  1. If I wanted something "special", it would be my mom's 20 lb lasange (which was only served at christmas. Yes we weighed it one year!), but for simple comfort it would be porcupines, meatballs of beef, rice, garlic, and oregano fried then simmered in tomato sauce with a little water and more rice and oregano. Simply flavoured and divine. I could never get the meatballs as large as she did to come out as well as she does. I can make smaller ones, but somehow she managed to make fist-sized balls that didn't fall apart.

    If grandma was still around, I would request her chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which used a much higher portion of white sugar to brown but still were somehow very moist and chewy (and we seek to recreate this recipe to this day. the recipe card disappeared when she passed away, but the taste and texture remain burned into our memories)

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    1. re: Popkin

      "Home at last" and "home cooking" were epitomized by my mom's Christmas spreads. Now departed for 15 years, her last fest was fondly enjoyed on 12/25/92. It was an eight hour processional that started with Aunt Suzanne's famed whiskey sours accompanied by early afternoon appetizers of either jumbo shrimp w/ cocktail sauce or crab claws w/ creamy mustard sauce and parmesan spinach balls. By four, it was time a crock of her homemade French onion soup. Six was the Christmas dinner hour with a 24-lb free range Amish turkey, family recipe filling, gravy galore, potato cassarole, petite buttered peas, creamed pearl onions, corn cassarole, cabbage slaw, croissants with parsley butter, mini cinnamon buns and a few bottles of champagne. Dessert followed around nine with pecan pie, pumpkin pie, mom's Christmas cookies (one year she made a hundred dozen!), coffee, Cointreau and cognac.

      Maybe those fabulous meals will never be replicated but I have pictures and countless fond gustatory memories of "home at last." And how I miss those weeks before and after Christmas of countless cookies.

      CP

    2. Zabar's nova on a Kossar's bialy. (of course i can't eat bialys anymore...)

      1. For me, a true taste of home would be my mum's empanadas and my grandma's milanesas and homemade gnocchi.

          1. re: Evilbanana11

            that is home to you? or just what you want to have....

          2. Sonoran food, especially green corn tamales, flat enchiladas , carne seca, and chile rellenos.