Biology may or may not be destiny, but gastronomy is absolutely about climatology. If you live in the tropics, you eat spicy foods. If you live in the tundra, you eat protein. And if you are reading this you live under a permanent cloud of soggy grey chill, so naturally you long for huge platters of golden fried chicken and creamy garlic mashed potatoes, smothered in gravy. Glazed doughnuts. Grilled things extruding molten cheese and oozing butter. Your hibernal body wants them. Your sun-starved soul needs them.
For these reasons, comfort food is Seattle’s unheralded regional cuisine. Its natural habitat is Irish pubs and barbecue joints, breakfast spots and soul food restaurants, burger bars and country cafés. But comfort food has also spent the last decade ascending the sophistication ladder, showing up as the token down-market wallow on nearly every cutting-edge menu. This explains tempura and cream cheese in sushi rolls. The sudden ubiquity of that pillowy delight, the pork slider. The sheer genius that is fried chicken salad.
Best of all, comfort food’s soothing textures and mild flavors find natural expression in the South Asian, African, and variously global kitchens Seattle has in such profuse supply. What, you say comfort food can’t transcend its American origins? We’ll discuss over a dish of Indian butter chicken.
Call it the New Comfort Food—the classics of American cuisine rendered in versions we’ll call High, Low, and Neo. Think (relatively) upmarket for High, (relatively) down-market for Low—and some unexpectedly comforting facsimile for Neo. Just think of them as nominees for your new midnight cravings.