What do you like? For me it's starchy foods, mostly baked. Pies, breads, casseroles, pastas, tamales, dumplings.
I like cooking the breads, casseroles, and pies. A weekend without a pie is wasted.
Pure comfort food joy is meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. I would also have to include a traditional patty melt and any kind of soup (but mostly chicken noodle or bean with bacon.)
Oh, YES! And peas with the mash & gravy. Or...second day...slice of leftover meatloaf and some cheese, inside 2 slices of bread...GRILLED! Even better if you put hamburger condiments inside before grilling. They used to have those in the coffee shop at Hollywood Polar Palace a long. long time ago. (Burned down in 1963. Best rink in SoCal...all the cool people went there.)
The right kind of meat-loaf is incredibly delicious! Even the worst I've tasted is OK. Of course, mashed potatoes and gravy goes with nearly everything.
I don't know why there are so many jokes indicating meat-loaf is an inferior food. I know comics have to make fun of some food, but meat-loaf? Give me a break!
When I was young, I wondered why they made fun of fruitcake. I loved it then, but the last two I've tried were bad. But I still think the right kind should be good.
Maybe the meatloaf jokes are because it takes real un-talent to make a bad one? [shrug]
The only fruitcake I ever liked was the kind a great aunt made: the only fruit in it was raisins and currants, plus chopped walnuts. It was the type that had to soak in brandy or rum for at least 3 months after being baked. Dark, rich...oh, my! I've never cared for the ones that are 20 kinds of candies fruit stuck together with a minimum amount of batter.
So, yes, we laugh at fruitcake jokes in this house.
Being vegetarian doesn't change that I have related ideas about comfort food. I've made a lentil loaf for decades, designed to bring back the spirit of my mother's meat loaf. Replicating the sensations and emotions, without the meat.
She always included oatmeal in her meatloaf, and slices of onions. And it was topped with ketchup, which became thickened and more flavorsome through the baking. So I do all of those. My favorite was the leftover, that she sliced and used for sandwiches, with mayo, mustard, and pickles. So I do that too. It's more crumbly than the real thing. I don't mind.
I probably couldn't tolerate the real thing if placed in front of me, But the lentilized version always reminds me of my mother's cooking style, and flavors, and makes me feel loved even though I am the one who makes it.
I have quite a few fond memories of my mother's food:
Deep fried Donuts (incredibly delicious without the powdered sugar!).
Grilled cheese sandwiches (wonderful).
Cheese & macaroni casserole.
Pot roast with potatoes, carrots, & onions (about the only way I like carrots).
Surely some more that I can't think of now.
I have some of her recipes but should get more before she's gone.
Remembered another: Carrot cake with just a touch of her caramel frosting. Delish! Another of the few ways I like carrots.
Ditto for me with grilled cheese sandwivhes, tapioca pudding, and cheese and macaroni casserole. Also bread rolls, she made the dough the day ahead and refrigerated it, then let it warm up and rise a day or days later. I lost that recipe.
She also made a casserole with potatoes, sauerkraut, and almonds I haven't found that recipe either.
And my dad made pies, especially apple. And crepes. And pancakes.
All of those.
I love carrot cake too. That wasn't from my parents, I just like it.
Oh, yes! My mom's bread, fresh from the oven, still hot, and slathered with margarine. Nice memory.
I've said it before, but I like margarine better than butter, probably because we almost never ate butter when I was young. Out of our price-range don'cha know.
When we were in our teens and twenties, my brother started making whole-wheat bread that was very good tasting. I make a considerable amount of it, but I've never been able to come close to the taste of his.
On second thought, I think mom made carrot pudding, not cake. She made it in large sealed 2-quart mason jars, and it came-out quite moist.
I think I've also mentioned before that my mom didn't like cooking, so when us kids got older, she stopped, and dad started. He seemed to enjoy it. Don't remember him making anything fancy. Just sandwiches, bacon & eggs, pancakes, and things like that.
Grilled Cheese sammiches need 'Mater Soup, 'cuz it's good goop! And 'Mater soup needs Cheezits or croutons or oyster crackers or SOMETHING ... besides dipping the grilled cheese in it!
Hey! You been reading my mind?
Yours and a few million others, I suspect! :)