I woke up this morning craving Mom’s chili, done her way served over mashed potatoes.  For some reason, the day screamed comfort food. Maybe I had a strange, unremembered dream, maybe I’ve just been watching too much news.

“Irish chili” we called it…nary a trace of capsaisin (sp? chemical in peppers that make them hot) in the mix; thick with ground beef, onions and green bell peppers, Mom would brown everything then add kidney beans and Campbell’s Tomato Soup and let it simmer a few hours on the stove.

Any foodie purists are probably turning their noses up at the concoction, condemning the dish for its’ lack of heat and use of the dreaded tomato…soup or otherwise.  Agreed. It’s not.

I’ve had the real thing, even had it made of rattlesnake instead of beef or turkey….them’s good eatin’, and besides it’s great fun watching people’s face when talking about eating unusual entrees.  Ants aren’t bad, either….lemony from the formic acid they carry, but if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and that’s what there is to eat, food is food.

But when it comes to comfort food…when it comes to that feeling of being hugged from the belly on out, to me there’s nothing like Mom’s “Irish chili!”  She always seemed to know when to make it. I’d come home from a hard day at school-hell, or come running up the basement stairs after being caught in a summer downpour…for some reason, there  it would be…the old dutch oven, it’s lid cocked jauntily, tempting a peek, daring a taste from its perch on the stove.

To this day, when I get back there for a visit, it’s the one dish I beg her to make without exception.
I’ve tried to duplicate it….and have come fairly close…..but nobody does it quite like her. And nobody ever will.

So for today, Fifty Five is the New Comfort, because there is nothing wrong with seeking comfort, refuge from a world gone mad. Even if it is found in a bowl of “Irish chili.”

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