What I really look forward to finding in the fridge in a time of late-night need is meatloaf. Now we’re getting serious. Meatloaf.
When I say those words, people usually smile. And then I ask, “Why are you smiling?” And then they laugh. “Why are you laughing?” And they laugh again. “Meatloaf – haw, haw, haw – meatloaf – haw, haw, haw.” One of the many mysterious powers of meatloaf.
Mom’s Cafe at the four-way stop in Salina, Utah, is high on my list of great places to eat. Mom’s advertistes THE BEST IN HOMEMADE PIES, SCONES, SOUP, AND MUCH MUCH MORE!! Mom’s specializes in liver and onions, chicken-fried steak, deep-fried chicken, “real” french fries, and “real” mashed potatoes. But Mom’s doesn’t serve meatloaf. I called them long-distance to check my facts. The lady who answered the phone was a little surprised that I asked. “Don’t you know nothing? Meatloaf is something you eat at home.”
It’s true. Meatloaf is mostly homemade. Mostly made by real moms, by hand. Constructed out of what’s around. Some hamburger that might be going bad if it isn’t used soon – sprouting potatoes, rubbery carrots, onions, salt, pepper, steak sauce, bacon drippins, et cetera. I say “et cetera” because the list of what’s possible is too long to print. Then there’s the filler – meatloaf expander. Bread crumbs, corn flakes, Rice Krispies, oatmeal, or whatever – even dirt would work, I guess. And some egg to hold the whole thing together. Then it has to be mushed around by hand, kneaded into a loaf, and put into the family museum piece, the meatloaf pan. Into the oven to bake. Served hot with gravy, mashed potatoes, and Wonder Bread. Yes. Yes!
But don’t eat it all. Never ever eat all the meatloaf when it’s fresh. But about a third of it away in the back of the fridge and forget about it. This is the best part. The part you are going to eat about 2:00 AM some dark, rainy night when you need sustaining. No health department would allow such a thing to be served in a public restaurant. But nothing’s better for you. It’s a matter of mental health. I’ve never heard anybody say he was depressed by eating a cold meatloaf sandwich.
From Uh-Oh, by Robert Fulghum, Random House, Inc, 1993