Comfort food is important. It’s nice to have those dishes to fall back on after a rough day. No subclass of comfort food may be more important than nostalgia food, those dishes that we grew up loving not because we went out and found them on our own but because they were the dishes fed to us by our loved ones. Are these dishes from our youth as good as what we eat today? That’s not the point; the point is that within the dish is a combination of flavors transport us back in time, away from whatever our current issues may be.
Today is the grand opening of BCK: Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures, and one of the pillars of their food menu is nostalgic American fare. Having recently sat down to have a bite of what they’re offering, I can tell you my nostalgia never tasted this good. Their salisbury steak blows away any TV dinner I might have had growing up, and a 44 Farms hot dog is way better than whatever meat is used in the can that inspired BCK’s Pasghettio’s. If you were the type that used to think elevating your mac 'n' cheese meant topping it with Cheez-It crackers, then you’re going to love what might be the best new mac 'n' cheese dish in the city.
But BCK isn’t just interested in their nostalgia. A piece of butcher paper hangs on one wall, inviting diners to submit their own nostalgic favorites for potential addition to the menu. With that in mind, here are some of my personal picks that I hope one day make it into the rotation.
The Chicken Nugget Happy Meal
I understand why in a more health-conscious society McDonald’s feels they need to make their Happy Meals healthier, but I can’t help but feel a small tinge of sadness for the next generation of kids who aren’t going to remember the Happy Meal at its unhealthy best. The world needs more tempura chicken nuggets, but you just don’t realize it until you try them.
The Ninja Turtle Pudding Pie
It’s a green glazed pie crust with vanilla pudding inside of it. It was so bonkers good that even decades later I still find myself occasionally wishing the TMNT franchise would take off again on the off chance that these would hit the market.
I’m always curious about what people way smarter than me when it comes to cooking would do with the simpler dishes the world offers. Consider party mix (Chex mix if you want to include the big brand on the block); we all have a rough idea of what it tastes like, but in reality it’s a snack that could serve as a whole platform for different flavors.
Did you know that beef stroganoff was the most Googled recipe of 2017? Clearly, there is a desire for something more than the Hamburger Helper version many of us grew up eating. We might even be convinced to eat the mushrooms that come in the “real” version of the dish.
If ever there was a food that was probably not as difficult to make as we assume but we’re still never going to attempt, it’s this fast breakfast favorite. A good dough, a solid jam and a sweet glaze sounds like something that would end up on everyone’s Instagrams.