1. Baked macaroni and cheese.
It’s like regular macaroni and cheese, except you sprinkle more cheese and buttery breadcrumbs on it and bake it (which is like someone giving you 50 bucks, except they sprinkled another 100 dollars on top of it first).
2. Barbecue ribs.
Yes, you will spend the three hours post-rib-feast picking it out of your teeth, but anything worth having is worth fighting for, amirite?
3. Fried chicken.
It’s not that every fried chicken is equally perfect — some of it is downright mediocre. But when it’s brined, and buttermilked, and double-battered, and salted, and eaten fresh and piping hot, there is nothing better in this cruel, indifferent world.
4. Spicy tuna roll.
Yes, it’s the basic bitch of the sushi roll, but it holds that title for a reason. It’s delicious.
5. Chocolate cake.
I know that there are many warring factions in Chocolate Cake Appreciation Land: some prefer the dark, rich ganache, and others the flourless fudginess. But I am a simple gal, and to me, nothing is better than the moist, fluffy chocolate layer cake with thick, creamy milk chocolate icing.
Is there any food-related moment more deeply satisfying than breaking that yolk and mixing it liberally through your carbonara, then dousing the whole thing with fresh cracked pepper?
7. Good bread.
You get to knock on it. You get to squeeze it and feel it crackle. You get to tear it open and see the big, wonderful holes. You get to pull off soft, chewy bits of bread insides. You get to dip it in the sauce left on your plate. GOOD BREAD IS A TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCE.
8. French onion soup.
I know this list is getting a little heavy on the “things with melted cheese on top of them” side, but frankly, that is the best genre of food we have. And the dark, rich broth with caramelized onions, good crusty bread, and melted gruyere — it’s amongst the best in the genre.
Steamed, fried, gyoza, potsticker, wonton — it’s all wonderful.
10. Cream puffs.
Has any food been so perfectly reduced to its essence as a cream puff? Good dough, good pastry cream, and maybe a dollop of good chocolate on top. It’s so simple, and so wonderful.
11. A well-cooked steak.
Even at their worst, nachos are still pretty excellent. And even though sometimes you get a fully-loaded chip, and then a chip with nothing but sour cream and a single shred of lettuce, if you try hard and apply yourself you can one day become a master nacho-topping-distributor.
13. White pizza.
I know that some of you are devotees to the traditional red sauce pizza, or even the (excellent) barbecue sauce base. But there is something so amazing about the garlicky, cheesy, basily perfection of a white pizza.
14. Soft serve.
Soft, creamy, wonderful.
15. Pork buns.
There is just something so magical about pork buns, something almost impossible to define. It’s the perfect little pocket of food.
16. Truffle fries.
Yes, they’re amongst the most bougie junk foods, but they are worth every dollar (particularly when dusted with parmesan).
17. Potatoes au gratin.
Cream, potatoes, garlic, a few kinds of cheese, salt, and pepper. The only food groups that matter.
18. Italian ice.
Yes, it’s simple, but is anything better on a hot summer day?
19. Breakfast sandwiches.
When you’re up at the crack of dawn doing something you have nothing in, only one thing can soothe that pain, and that thing is a fresh, hot breakfast sandwich. It’s the security blanket of foods.
BONUS – Fried Rice
When you’re craving it, nothing else will do. And there is no way in the world that skinny feels better than a big bowl of fried rice, a couch, and a marathon of your favorite TV show. No way.