Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Chefs and hospitalit­y pros share their heartbreak meals

- By Hira Qureshi

We’ve all been hurt or let down by a loved one — be it romantical­ly or platonical­ly. For some of us, food helps soothe and mend bruised hearts. Whether it’s fast food favorites or family dishes, we all have that one food that pulls us out of our pity parties, no matter the flavor of heartache.

While chefs are known to harness the power of food to woo, others use it to heal. In that spirit, we tapped some Philly hospitalit­y pros to share with us the comfort foods that keep them going, long after the love was lost.

Simple yet soulful: Heirloom tomatoes and bacon on rye

While at the grocery store last summer, Diana Robinson eyes welled when she saw the section of heirloom tomatoes. “I didn’t really realize what was happening at first,” she said.

For the the bartender at Bloomsday Cafe in Society Hill, heirloom tomato season is a reminder of the end of the pandemic quarantine — and the end of her relationsh­ip with a longtime partner.

In her bubble of sadness, she found comfort in a tomato, bacon sandwich. She took two slices of homemade rye bread, slathered them with homemade aioli, added large pieces of bacon and thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, and finished it off with some cracked black pepper.

“I think I ate that meal for three weeks straight, three to four times a day,” she said. “I was mostly tomato by that point.”

With the occasional pinch of heartache, Robinson finds “reverse joy” in her heirloom tomato sandwich. “It’s such a good meal on its own,” she said.

Big Mac snack attack Whenever Jennifer Zavala of Juana Tamale takes a bite of a Big Mac sandwich from McDonald’s, she thinks of a tall, cute boy who listened to her favorite rock bands and broke her heart in high school.

“I loved everything about him,” she recalled. The two went on a couple of dates but nothing clicked for the boy. “One day, I asked him if I would be someone that you would take to prom and he was like, no.”

Zavala was devastated.

Coming from a small town with very few Latina girls in her school, she felt it had to do with the way she looked. “I just remember feeling extremely low and very defeated, and questionin­g myself and everything,” as she wandered around her neighborho­od. That is until she walked into her nearby McDonald’s and devoured a Big Mac.

“It cured everything — if only for a moment,” Zavala said. “And then it turned into the reality of having to walk back home and only being satisfied with a Big Mac.”

While McDonald’s is her go-to heartbreak healer, Zavala also gets the Big Mic at Sulimay’s in Fishtown. “They know my order by heart.” The Big Mac dupe is a double patty on sesame seed bun with cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and housemade sauce and pickles. Zavala will ask them to add bacon and fries to “feel the love that I’m not getting.”

“You want something that [nourishes] you,” she said. “I’m an emotional eater, so when I’m really sad or selfdeprec­ating, I just I want to swim in ranch dressing in a Big Mac — it’s okay to wallow in that moment.”

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