In the United States, comfort food might be mac and cheese or mom’s pot roast. But nearly everyone has a food that evokes nostalgia. That includes cultures that don’t call it comfort food; they just call it food made with love. We asked Charleston chefs who grew up in different cultures what comfort food is for them.
Dolly Awkar, Lebanese
“We don’t have comfort food because cooking is part of the family life and our tradition, and it is a daily comfort,” said Dolly Awkar, general manager and owner of Leyla Fine Lebanese Cuisine in downtown Charleston.
Awkar says she grew up with a housekeeper who cooked for the family, which included Awkar, her parents, two brothers and a sister. Although there was no notion of comfort food in Lebanon, she said this recipe was something that everyone liked and that it reminds her of her childhood.
“What makes this comfort food? It is hearty and filling, and without feeling overstuffed once you finish eating it,” she said. “You enjoy it, the taste is wonderful with so many spices, and then when you eat it, you feel also good. Before, during and after.”
Baked Kafta and Potatoes
(For 4-5 people)
1½ lb. lean ground beef or lamb