Restaurants love to reference relatives or specific individuals because they give a dish a story and a provenance. A diner sees this and begins to imagine who Nellie might be, and a prosaic, “economy” dish, notorious for stretching out small amounts of meat with fillers, takes on a whole new significance. They invest the recipe with authoritative roots and believe it to be something special – otherwise why would Nellie, or Mom or Grandma be mentioned in the menu, right? Wrong. The meatloaf recipe is probably as generic as they get, made from the conventional mixture of ground meats - the proportions adjusted in the most cost effective manner. Nellie is merely a device to justify the extra $5 the restaurant tacked onto the price. As for the addition of “home-style,” suggesting warm and fuzzy notions of comfort, tradition and authenticity – well, that’s another $2 you’re paying right there.
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