i love meatloaf
and when you look at the reasons, it's not hard to see why it graces the top of my favorite meals list. first of all, it's simple. no fancy ingredients, mostly made with items every standard kitchen has. it gets mixed, and baked. you can't beat that. second of all, while it's baking, and it's aroma fills the house, memories come sweeping back over me of my childhood, when i would have to get cleaned up from playing neighborhood baseball before dinner. next, there's a wonderful retro-kitschiness associated with meatloaf. a meal which become popular during the depression as a way to stretch the meat budget, it could be made with inexpensive meats and ingredients, and still feed a large family. fourthly, not only is it great right out of the oven, but it's a meal where the leftover's create a plethora of other meals, almost outdoing it's original intention. fifth, it goes well with mashed potatoes...nuff said. finally, meatloaf is one of those wonderful dishes everyone knows how to make, and everyone has there own special way of fixing it, making it a wonderful meal to try in different establishments and locations.
now, being it was one of my favorite meals growing up, it was one of the first meals i took the time to perfect once i got out on my own. my style of meatloaf is a very traditional mixture consisting of a combination of my moms recipe as well as a family friend. being extremely proud of my own recipe, this past weekend i decided to put my loaf where my mouth was, and entered a meatloaf competition.
enlisting the help of my mom, early saturday morning my apartment was filled with the scent of meatloaf. finishing up and placing them in the roaster, we headed to the competition, four blocks away. i was feeling extremely confident, up until got there, and realized most of the other competitors were actual chef's from local restaurants, complete with fancy hats, fancy knives, and fancy aprons. setting up next to me, were stainless steel trays filled with mixtures of rabbit meats, sweet bread, bacon wraps, and smoked chorizo. i was a little nervous. however as the competition commenced, and i handed out samples, i realized, my traditional approach was actually what set me apart, so i started mentioning this fact to the samplers. now, it could have been the fact i had a more traditional recipe, or it might have simply been they wanted a little bit more "eye candy" from yours truly, but there were several ladies in the 65+ category who came back for seconds.
at the end of the competition, the winners were announced, and sadly i didn't win. i did however win the most "diner-esque" meatloaf award, which the judges explained as being exactly the kind of meatloaf you'd want when you go into a diner...
...and looking back on why i love meatloaf in the first place, and what i'd like my version to be, it was the perfect award to win.