I took a poll on facebook and asked folks what their favorite comfort food was, and I got the usual answers: mac and cheese, homemade; soup; Shepard's pie; mashed potatoes; pasta. All starchy, all hot, all filling.

I got to thinking about comfort food and what it does for us. It seems very visceral and pure to me: you feel lousy, and when you feel bad you feel empty. Naturally you try to fill that hole with something warm and cottony and soft hoping it will make you feel better. Is there something biological at work here as well? I did some googling and it turns out yes, there is. Some of it is conditioning - we crave the foods we were given to soothe us as children - and some of it is science; we feel happier when our stomachs are full, and nothing makes us feel fuller faster than fat and starch. But there is also a psychological component as well: A recent study suggests a strong link between comfort foods and the comfort we get from loved ones; in fact, simply thinking of comfort foods can make us feel significantly less lonely. Hmmmm.

I have felt like a pretty big bucket of shit lately, and for no real reason. Perhaps a little mix of everything, but one thing is for sure: I don't like feeling this way. So I thought I would make something to cheer myself up. I made a list of all the things I like to eat when I feel blue: pasta, cheese, bread, seafood (I know, I don't know why either), ice cream, cake, hot dogs. I chose a dish that incorporated the most of these varied ingredients, Lobster Mac and Cheese (from scratch):

Lobster Mac and Cheese for when you're Feeling Blue

2 cups elbow macaroni
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
2 cups grated fontina cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
3 tbsp lobster broth
1 tsp tabasco sauce
1/4 grated nutmeg
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup cooked lobster meat, cut into 1" chunks
1/3 cup minced chives
2 green onions, chopped thinly

If you are using fresh lobster, saute in a pan with butter until cooked through. Set aside.

Heat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until halfway done, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in milk and stir until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses (leaving a little out), broth, tabasco, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Add pasta to cheese sauce. Stir in half each of the lobster, chives and scallions.

Transfer the mixture to a 9x9 baking dish and sprinkle with the leftover cheese, lobster, chives and scallions. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 1/2 hour.

This was absolutely delicious and absolutely comforting, although not at all comforting for my pocketbook: this is the most expensive dish I have ever made on Crass Cuisine. Cheese and lobster are not cheap. But totally worth it, because it made me feel better. Life is too short to feel shitty without a real reason!