What did your mom make for you when you were home from school with a cold? What was the menu you always requested on your birthday? What’s the one food that never fails to give you at least a little lift when you’re feeling down?
Answer those questions, and you’ve discovered the capital cities of your own personal Atlas of Food Nostalgia. While the items on that menu are different for everyone, most nostalgic foods tend to layer on carbs, fat or sugar with abandon. Warmth is often key, as is melted cheese. And it’s safe to say that, at least until the current generation of kids grows into adulthood, kale is not a food for which anyone feels nostalgic.
Many diners are no longer hoping to be served those foods only in home kitchens. They’re increasingly willing to visit restaurants that offer them homey platters of meatloaf, deviled eggs and mac and cheese.
Restaurants around the country are finding ways to cater to this trend. Momofuku Milk Bar, with locations in New York, Washington, D.C. and Toronto, was one of the first to explore the lengths (and expense) to which diners will go to recreate tastes of childhood. Chef Christina Tosi uses her Cereal Milk (made from toasted cornflakes steeped in milk) as a base for incredibly popular soft serve ice cream, panna cotta and ice cream pies.
At Macbar in New York City, there are twelve things on the menu, and all of them are mac and cheese. They range from the Classic, made with elbow macaroni, American cheese and cheddar cheese, up to more highbrow fare like Mac Quack, made with duck confit, fontina, caramelized onion and fine herbs. And at Tom + Chee, a chain of 33 fast-casual restaurants, the menu is centered on that perfect Saturday lunch combo: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.
When salads turn nostalgic, they amp up the crunch and bring on the creamiest of dressings. Along with the newfound popularity of classic steakhouses comes the return of the wedge salad: cold, crunchy iceberg lettuce paired with rich, creamy blue cheese dressing. Real bacon bits to garnish? Yes, please. T. Marzetti™ Foodservice carries a number of dressings that are the perfect complement to the classic wedge, including Blue Cheese, Chunky Blue Cheese, Premium Blue Cheese and Simply Dressed® Blue Cheese Dressing. Think of them as nostalgia-delivery vehicles for the comfort food your diners crave.