Over the years I have devoted quite a bit of attention to the idea of a Great Plains cuisine, toward defining and extending the foodways of our region. Often this has involved introducing more spice into regional life--Asian and Hispanic influences.

Thinking today about my Sunday dinner of meatloaf at the Wild Rose Cafe in Ashley, and savoring a plate of snowpeas and shallots from the prairie garden, with a pinch of summer savory--I recognize that the heart of the culinary identity does not lie on the fiery edge. It resides in our comfort foods, enriched by subtleties.