Comfort foods are near and dear to all of our hearts, but have you ever stopped to think why they bring us so much… well… comfort?
Across the world comfort food varies greatly and even across genders in the same part of the world.
For instance, in the US, research out of Cornell University’s famous food lab showed females tend to prefer snack-related comfort food (chocolate and candy) while males tend to prefer more substantial meals (pasta and casseroles).
Theories behind this state that men tend to want things prepared for them that their mother would have made, which makes them feel cared for and comforted. However, females, who are responsible for most of the caregiving, want less fuss in their comfort food. Enter the candy and chocolate, and lots of it!
Researcher, Brian Wansink, explained that “comfort foods evoke a psychologically pleasurable state…” Which is interesting, but what makes a comfort food a comfort food? Psychology Today suggests that there are several reasons we crave certain comfort foods.
Reasons We Crave Comfort Food
- To Feel Good: Hyperpalatabile foods such as salty, sugary, fatty foods light up the brain’s reward system similar to an addiction. The brain is rewarding you for eating those foods by sending feel-good chemicals out.
- Good Mood & Nostalgia: We use these foods as a reward for something good that happened in our life, kind of like keeping the party going. Something good happens, so you eat good food, and it keeps you feeling good!
- Celebration: Similar to above, but we use food as a reward to celebrate a particular event.
- Bad Mood/Self Medication: Emotional eating drives people to eat more and worse foods than typically would in attempt to lift their emotional state.
- Community: Certain foods we associate with a sense of belonging. From Thanksgiving to birthday cake, if you were a part of it you belonged. Eating certain foods can bring back that sense of belonging, at least temporarily.
There are many reasons why crave and indulge in the comfort foods we love. Given, that it’s a phenomenon that happens around the world, our comfort food cravings aren’t going anywhere!
They might change though, depending on your life experiences and why you are craving them. Maybe you visited another country, and you start to want a comfort food from that place you can’t go back too! Here are some delicious comfort food dishes you should try during your next traveling adventure.
Comfort Food From Around the World
- Greece (Moussaka) – Eggplant & potato casserole
- Poland (Pierogies) – Polish dumplings
- Ireland – Irish stew
- Iceland – Rice pudding
- France – French onion soup
- Canada (Poutine) – French fries, cheese curds, and gravy
- Puerto Rico (Pernil) – Slow-roasted, marinated pork shoulder
- South Korea (Gamjatang) – Pork bone stew with potatoes
- United States – Cheeseburgers
- China – Beef and peanut stew
- Australia – Meat pie
- Iran (Koresh Gheymeh) – Split yellow pea and beef stew
- Italy (Pasta e Ceci) – Pasta with chickpeas
- Japan – Miso soup
- Lebanon (Man’oushe) – Herbed flatbread