Let’s get right to the point, shall we? “Luxury Comfort foods” is an oxymoron.
Not only is it an oxymoron, it’s one of the most nefarious sorts. Comfort foods are, almost by definition, easily accessible and readily enjoyed. Adding expense to a basic meal like hamburger, whether its using Kobe beef or white truffle paste, reduces the accessibility of said dish. In other words, it takes it out of the hands of the common man and places it firmly into that of the obsessive or the wealthy. I say this, not to disparage the obsessive (of which I am a member) nor the wealthy (of which I am not), but to give proper respect to comfort foods out there.
So when Adam Kuban was quoted as saying this recently…
“Most people don’t get to say they’ve tried the best or most expensive truffles, caviar or wine,” he says. “But a $40 burger is arguably within reach of mere mortals. It’s a chance to try the ‘ultimate’ example of something edible, and because it’s a burger—well, who doesn’t want to eat the ultimate burger?”
…I must respectfully disagree.
I’d argue (and I do note that Adam did say ‘arguably’) that the more expense added to a dish, the more comfort foods lose whatever connection they had to what made them popular in the first place. Every day eaters of hamburgers are unlikely to seek out the $62 dollar burger at BLT Burger, because comfort food is a regular standby, not a once a year treat. Ditto for $55 Macaroni and Cheese, $100 Philly Cheesesteak or the $1000 sushi roll. All of these foods have their roots as food for the working class. If one truly wishes to pay homage to these meals, one should make them so that they are still affordable on a regular basis to those who made them popular.
Adding whatever the expensive ingredient du jour happens to be to these dishes misses the point of what made these dishes popular in the first place.