There are some dishes only Mom can make. Sure, other people can cook them. You can too, and maybe you’ve tried. But somehow, your mom’s version has always been superior.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked 100 people across the U.S. to tell us the one dish their mom makes (or made) better than anyone.
The question yielded a melting pot of responses, brimming with comfort food and memories of the moms — and mother figures — in people’s lives. We sliced and diced the data to bring you these findings.
A whole lotta pasta
More than one-quarter of respondents said pasta in all its forms was their hands-down favorite Mom dish.
There were also shout-outs for mac ‘n’ cheese, macaroni salad, baked ziti, buffalo chicken pasta, chicken paprikash with bowtie pasta, and macaroni salad.
Among the pasta enthusiasts was a female respondent in the 35-44 age group whose 70-year-old mother-in-law is her culinary hero.
“My mom is deceased but my mother-in-law is alive and she makes the best pasta salad, macaroni salad, spaghetti and lasagna, oh and cheesesteaks too. I love all her cooking really. Right now I have some spaghetti she made me and my husband, is it delicious. She will be 70 this year and I hope she lives a long time because she really helps us and makes us stuff. She has a heart problem. We try to help her as much as we can. My husband drives her to her doctor appts. She collects cookbooks and I go to yard sales and pick her up different ones. She likes those binder ones that the churches and others make with homemade recipes. Thank you.”
Eight respondents had high praise for their mother’s casserole. Amazingly — or not, considering casserole’s infinite flexibility — no two respondents described the same type of casserole.
For the love of meat
Meatloaf topped the list for eight respondents, one of whom mentioned that his mom is a chef and culinary school graduate. So there.
Pies, both sweet and savory, had a good showing. Among the 10 who chose it was a male respondent who marveled at his mom’s crust-making skills.
“She has very round thumbs and just has great skill in pressing them evenly and symmetrically,” he wrote.
Filtering the results by geographic region, we saw a few interesting patterns.
Meat and pasta dishes were also well represented in the Southeast, while the two respondents in the Rocky Mountain region had only sweet treats on their minds — sweet rolls and their mom’s chocolate birthday cake.
People’s tastes were diverse in the Pacific region; in fact, no two people mentioned the same dish! We saw similar variety and specificity among Southwestern respondents, who named dishes ranging from banana bread to curry chicken to okra soup.
What we learned
We have a sudden craving for cornbread.
And we’re pretty sure respondents’ own mothers, if they saw this poll, wouldn’t argue with it — or give up any of their culinary secrets.