A Perfect Recipe for Meatloaf

I hate meatloaf.

When I was a kid, my mother experimented with meatloaf recipes.  During the years I was growing up, she tried no fewer than forty-seven meatloaf variations, including Mexican Meatloaf, “Best” Meatloaf, Spicy Meatloaf, Italian Meatloaf, Barbeque Meatloaf, Southern Meatloaf, Smoky Meatloaf, Cheeseburger Meatloaf, Amish Meatloaf, Turkey Meatloaf, and one I liked to call Garbage Can Meatloaf.

My parents, of course, had a rule about eating a bite of everything on our plates.  The rule went something like this:  “You’re going to eat a bite, and then you’re going to eat another bite, and if you don’t clean your plate, by God, we’ll put the remains into a turkey baster and blast it down your throat.”  Or something like that.

I don’t want to call my mom a health nut because these days the term conjures up images of dreadlocked vegans. She did, however, read a book extolling the virtues of nutritional yeast and wheat germ, and those two ingredients were automatically added to everything from yogurt to, well, meatloaf.

I’ve long believed that bacon is a magic ingredient that makes any food better.  And my theory was kind of proven true when Vosges chocolates came out with pancake mix containing bacon pieces covered in chocolate.  And of course there’s cheese, which I thought could fix anything.  Melt some cheese on a bowl of canned dog food, and I might be persuaded to pretend it’s corned beef hash.  Cheese and bacon can fix anything from a scrambled egg to a broken heart.  Everything, that is, except meatloaf.

And don’t ever try to tell me I’m going to like meatloaf because a famous chef sprinkled some fairy dust and foie gras on it and made it spectacular.  Braised Shortrib Truffled Meatloaf or Meatleouf Bourguignon or Meatloaf Wellington are all still meatloaf.   And meatloaf with a fancy name is like a perfumed hooker in church.

A couple of weeks ago, my son and I met my parents for dinner at a tiny local restaurant that only has two or three things on the menu every day because the chef cooks what he can get fresh at the local markets.  When I discovered that my choices were fried flounder (which I won’t eat because of my gluten-free diet) and meatloaf, I quickly excused myself from the restaurant and drove up the street to the World Famous Oasis.  It took a margarita and thinking about slaughtering hogs to get the picture of meatloaf out of my brain.

My aversion to meatloaf began in childhood, and it’s something I probably should have gotten over by now.  But last week, on the day before I went to court for a final showdown with my ex-husband, I read this quote by the famous author Deepak Chopra:  “Relationships based on need are doomed for failure. Relationships based on playfulness are creative and could lead to ecstasy.”

It sounded to me like a recipe for a good relationship.  Strangely enough, it also reminded me of another reason I hate meatloaf while giving me another clue as to what went so terribly wrong in my marriage.

Not long after our honeymoon, my husband sang a song to me that I’d never heard before.  One day, out of the blue, he belted out these lyrics:

I want you

I need you

But there ain’t no way

I’m ever gonna love you

Now don’t feel sad

‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad

Words a new bride is dying to hear, right?   I don’t know what possessed my new husband to even think of that song, much less sing it to me, except that on some level that was how he felt.  At any rate, they turned out to be strangely prophetic.

The song, of course, was made famous by Marvin Lee Aday, better known as Meat Loaf, on his 1977 Bat Out of Hell album.

It took a very long time and a mountain of misery for me to finally end that marriage.  It only took me five minutes to get out of the restaurant that had nothing I wanted or needed or loved.  I now know with absolute certainty that I’ll be like a bat out of hell when it comes to getting away from people and places that aren’t in my best interest.    And that ain’t bad.



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