Confession: When I was little, I was a picky eater. No oddities like only eating white or green foods, but nonetheless, there was a whole list of things I would not touch: raisins, melted cheese (except for pizza cheese), hard boiled eggs, any sort of meat other than chicken, lima beans, packaged cold cuts, etc. And when I found something I really loved, no one could ween me off it. Some of these food habits still cling to me to this day.
Of course, as I’ve gotten older and my food tastes have matured (hopefully, wishfully) some of these food habits from my teeny years have been harbored away in the back of my mind for safe keeping, say, for a day when it’s grey and rainy and the roommates are out and I just want to devour what I consider real comfort food. There are some comfort foods that are generally accepted, like mac and cheese, or french fries, but everyone has their own list of “go-to” comfort foods. One of mine that I keep locked away is one that truly horrifies some of my Italian friends: pasta and ketchup. Add some breadcrumbs to the mix and I’m a pig in heaven. Sweet and salty, cold and hot, crunchy and chewy all in one forkful.
Everyone once in a while I will crave this odd mix. The source of inspiration of this came from my mother, of course, who I shared a love of pasta with from when I was an itty-bitty. When she wanted a snack in the later hours, the two of us would make some pasta to toss in that heavenly mix of Heinz and Progresso bread crumbs. No other brand. No other combination. Even when I was abroad in the UK for a semester in college, I remember one night when I got a little homesick, I made this meal when I thought everyone was either out or in bed. To my horror, one of my flatmates was still up and discovered me curled up on the couch, watching an episode of a bad British soap opera while eating my bastardization of an Italian meal. Of course, my flatmate looked at me as if I had two heads, cried EWWW and again, caused me to recoil and lock away the “recipe” for safe keeping, out of the public’s eye and ridicule.
But thanks to Mark Bittman of the NYTimes, I no longer have to hide. In his blog, The Minimalist, he posted his recipe for–GASP–a broth and noodle dish with endless variations in which the key ingredient is, ahem, KETCHUP!!!
As I blogged once before about my appreciation of Bittman’s quest to inspire people to use oatmeal for sweet and savory dishes, which served as another relief for me who had experiemented with the oats in the past, once again, I no longer have to hide my experimentations with the red stuff. Thank you Bittman for bringing light to my story.