One of my children has not been well this week, and as I made us both a 'poorly food' lunch of soup and cheese toasties, I was reminded of the power of food beyond mere fuel.
Obviously, this is not a new concept, but it got me thinking about why some foods are elevated to 'comfort food' status, and what they have in common, and here are my inexpert observations:
- It must be hot, or at least warm. Cold food just isn't going to cut it - see you later, sushi! You need to feel that internal glow.
- Equally, it must be substantial enough to feel the weight of it settle around your ribs like a gastronomic hug. No one has ever been comforted by a light broth.
- There must be carbs involved. The more the merrier in fact. Lasagne, chips AND garlic bread? Yes, yes and yes!
- There must be an element of unctuosity. This can come in many forms, from the ooze of melted cheese, to a rich chocolate sauce but this part is crucial to contentment.
- It must have flavour; ideally deep, rich, multi-layered flavour.
- There is probably an emotional link - it might be something that grandma used to make, or it might remind you of specific times or places.
- One thing it does not have to have is beautiful presentation. I'd say there's probably a converse correlation here actually, where the more of an unholy mess it looks, the more comforting it will be! Chips, cheese and gravy is a prime example of this! Looks awful, tastes amazing.
Quick and Easy Comfort Foods
Super versatile, you can throw in anything you have to hand, and there are endless flavour combinations. Try the Curry Night Kit from Spice Pots, or for more of a South East Asian vibe, try any of the Rempapa spice pastes, or the Smoked Chilli Peanut Butter by Butter Bike Co. with some coconut milk.
I'm with Garfield on this one, this is my ultimate comfort food, and it's also pretty versatile. For a perfectly sized lasagne for 1-2 people, try layering EPronto Bolognese Ragu (or any of their delicious ragu sauces) with sheets of pasta (fresh if you're really short on time), bechamel sauce and top with plenty of grated cheese.
A traditional Filipino dish, adobo is a mix of sweet, salty, smoky and umami flavours. Roni B's Kitchen have done the hard work for you with their Adobo Sauce. Simply add it to chicken (or any other protein, or veg), and once cooked, serve over fluffy white rice.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sometimes only something sweet will do, and it doesn't get more comforting than an old school pudding like sticky toffee. For when you're really going through it, swap your usual custard for Jude's Belgian Chocolate Custard.
I'd love to hear what your ultimate comfort food is, the meal that always makes you feel better! Let me know in the comments below!