Comfort Food, Part 2- The Family Table

Good afternoon, friends and neighbors!

Between my day job at the bakery, trying to keep up with this blog, and the release of the book (IN 3 DAYS!!,) I’ve actually managed to run a little low on energy for other parts of my life.

Which is why, last night, I decided I was going to give myself a weird form of self-care and fix myself a slightly advanced version of Matt’s Nights In In College.

Don’t make that face. This doesn’t come from nowhere. Nothing we eat does.

You’re Always From Your Hometown

The other day, my parents sent us pictures from a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dinner they attended in Philadelphia. While there, my dad took a picture for some of the old member portraits on display.

Hi, granddad.

I am the third generation of Strenger’s to be a member of the Chaîne, but the first to join as a Professional- the only Strenger to join as an actual cook or chef. My father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all doctors, and my mothers family were shopkeepers and grocers.

All the same, food absolutely runs in my family in a way. The descendant of two Jewish immigrant families, it’s hard to imagine that food and the comforts of home WOULDN’T run strong.

Nightly family dinners were a requirement, and big dinners around the holidays are some of my favorite memories- the ones that made me want to become a cook.

Tasting Memories

Since I’ve gotten older, there are a lot of things that demand my attention- and when it comes to food for ourselves, Emily and I almost always look back to the dishes we grew up with- not just because they were usually made to feed a lot of people on a budget, but because it IS “comfort” food in the truest sense.

When things in our lives feel out of our control and the world itself is slipping sideways, it’s not remarkable to want to taste memories of a time when things were simpler.

Hence my little Ramen-fest last night.

Back when I was in my sophomore year of college, cooking ANYTHING in my dorm meant it had to be microwaved or eaten straight. Even this package of instant ramen was a step-up- the Cup of Noodles didn’t even need a pot or hotplate.

And before the advent of YouTube, the entertainment of the night came from Flash cartoons like Homestar Runner.

I won’t pretend everything was easy back in college- it definitely didn’t feel that way.

In comparison to life today, though, everything felt more… secure. More certain and concrete. There were reasons for everything. Schedules to keep, grades to get, plans to follow.

Adulthood brought the freedom, and tyranny, of choice– and when that yoke feels a bit too heavy, we look for the experiences that remind us of when more choices were made for us, and we had less to worry about.


My grandmother has been gone for 6 years today. I still remember how her kitchens and dinners made me feel- safe and warm and loved.

I remember my mothers table- her insistence on it being family time, homemade, and healthful.

Eventually, when Emily and I have children, I wonder what my table will mean for them. I hope it will teach them even remotely as much as my family has.

In the meantime though…

Homemade Tonkatsu Ramen bowl with poached egg, chili paste, shallots, fried onions, and grilled Spam.

Nailed it.

Stay Classy,

The BHB's Top Hat Logo Signature

Currently Reading:  Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence. It’s a pretty dry book, lets be real here.


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