I love meatloaf. More than the sum of its simple parts, meatloaf transcends its ingredients and is, to me, the quintessential comfort food. At dinner it is a delicious main course. The next day, between slices of spongy white bread, it is the perfect cold sandwich.
I guess, I am a bit of a meatloaf aficionado. I have sampled loaves from the kitchens of restaurants and relatives from New York to Texas. I have tasted many a delightful interpretation of this classic, but through all my trials, my mother's meatloaf is the best. Dense, rich and savory, it stands unrivaled to this day.
Sadly, when Mom passed away, it seems she took the recipe with her. In the years since Mom's death, I have scoured her cookbooks, her binders and her notes, but the formula is not among them. It is truly nowhere to be found. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that there likely never was a written recipe in the first place. The basics were probably handed down to her from her mother. And Mom, in her lifetime, had executed the recipe so many times that the original combination had changed and become her very own. Unfortunately, she never put it on paper.
In the last half-decade I have tried dozens of times to recreate Mom's meatloaf on my own. All of them in vain. I have followed countless recipes. And worked through numerous variations. But, none come close to what I remember.
Much like her crispy fried chicken, her cole slaw dressing, and her Yankee chili, meatloaf has become one of my mom's lost treasures.
Today I wish that I had taken a moment to ask her to show me her secret methods. I am sure she would have been delighted to share. But, I never did. So, I am left trying to recreate a memory - from memory.
Of course, I doubt I ever will.
But, I'll keep trying. Because with each failure, I succeed. At remembering Mom.