Comfort food

Comfort food is food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone,[1] and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation.[2] The nostalgia may be specific to an individual, or it may apply to a specific culture.[3]

Chicken soup, a common classic comfort food that is found across various cultures


The term comfort food has been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: "Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called 'comfort food'—food associated with the security of childhood, like mother's poached egg or famous chicken soup."[4]

Psychological studiesEdit

Consuming energy-dense, high calorie, high fat, salt or sugar foods, such as ice cream, chocolate or french fries, may trigger the reward system in the human brain, which gives a distinctive pleasure or temporary sense of emotional elevation and relaxation.[5][6] When psychological conditions are present, people often use comfort food to treat themselves. Those with negative emotions tend to eat unhealthy food in an effort to experience the instant gratification that comes with it, even if only short-lived.[7]

One study divided college-students' comfort-food identifications into four categories (nostalgic foods, indulgence foods, convenience foods, and physical comfort foods) with a special emphasis on the deliberate selection of particular foods to modify mood or effect, and indications that the medical-therapeutic use of particular foods may ultimately be a matter of mood-alteration.[8]

The identification of particular items as comfort food may be idiosyncratic, though patterns are detectable. In one study of American preferences, "males preferred warm, hearty, meal-related comfort foods (such as steak, casseroles, and soup) while females instead preferred comfort foods that were more snack related (such as chocolate and ice cream). In addition, younger people preferred more snack-related comfort foods compared to those over 55 years of age." The study also revealed strong connections between consumption of comfort foods and feelings of guilt.[9] An article, "The Myth of Comfort Food" asserted that men tend to choose these types of savory comfort foods because they remind them of being "pampered" or spoiled, while women choose snack-related foods because they are associated with low amounts of work and less "cleanup." It also suggested that women are more likely to reach for unhealthier foods in times of stress due to more weight-conscious mindsets.

Comfort food consumption is seen as a response to emotional stress and, consequently, as a key contributor to the epidemic of obesity in the United States.[10] The provocation of specific hormonal responses leading selectively to increases in abdominal fat is seen as a form of self-medication.[11]

Further studies suggest that consumption of comfort food is triggered in men by positive emotions, and by negative ones in women.[12] The stress effect is particularly pronounced among college-aged women, with only 33% reporting healthy eating choices during times of emotional stress.[13] For women specifically, these psychological patterns may be maladaptive.[14]

A therapeutic use of these findings includes offering comfort foods or "happy hour" beverages to anorectic geriatric patients whose health and quality of life otherwise decreases with reduced oral intake.[15]

By regionEdit

A partial list by region of comfort foods around the world.


Comfort foods in Afghanistan are:

  • Aushak – stuffed dumplings and sauce
  • Bolani – filled flatbread[16]
  • Borani Banjan or Borani-e-Banjan – baked eggplant with yogurt sauce
  • Borani Kadoo or Borani-e-Kado – sweet and savory braised pumpkin with yogurt sauce[17]
  • Chainaki –
  • Chalaw or Challow – steamed rice with spices
  • Kabuli palaw or Qabuli Pulao – steamed rice with raisins, carrots, and lamb[17]
  • Karahai – meat cooked in a traditional karahi pot
  • Kebab – grilled skewered meat[16]
  • Korma Gosht or Qorma-e-Gosht – braised meat[18]
  • Mantu – meat-stuffed dumpling[16][18]
  • Naan – flatbread[17]
  • Sabzi Palu – spinach (sabzi) with spices
  • Sher Berinj – rice pudding[19]

Australia, New Zealand and South AfricaEdit

A Pavlova garnished with fruit and cream

Comfort foods in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa may include:


A plate of classic poutine at a Montreal restaurant.


Ful medames served with hard-boiled eggs, a staple in Egypt.


A madeleine. A madeleine de Proust is a French expression specifically referring to Marcel Proust's description of comfort food in In Search of Lost Time.


Hong KongEdit



Bubur ayam (chicken congee) is an Indonesian comfort food.

Some popular Indonesian foods are considered to be comfort food, usually served hot or warm, and either soupy or with a soft texture. Most of them are high in carbs or fat, such as congee, fried rice, and noodles which are high in carbs; while meatballs and grilled skewered meats contain fair amounts of fat and salt. Comfort foods often are the kind of food that provides nostalgic sentiments, as they often called masakan rumahan (home cooking) or masakan ibu (mother's dishes). In Indonesia, the warm and soft texture of bubur ayam is believed to help people to recover during convalescence.[39] Sayur sop or sup ayam is Indonesian chicken soup that often sought during flu. The warm soup contains chunk of chicken, bits of potato, carrot, and common green bean served in chicken stock.[40]

Some Indonesian comfort foods are traditional Indonesian food and some are derived from Chinese influences. For some Indonesians, especially those who are abroad, comfort food might also be a certain brand or type of Indonesian instant noodle, such as Indomie Mi goreng.[41] Indonesian comfort foods include:




Pork adobo
  • Adobo – A salt and vinegar marinated meat preparation with different variations all around the country.[58][59]
  • Arroz Caldo / Lugaw – A savory rice porridge, often served as breakfast, on rainy days, or when someone is ill.[60][61]
  • Batchoy – A noodle soup with a variety of meats.[62]
  • Filipino spaghetti - Sweet and savory spaghetti
  • Ginataan – A coconut cream-based dessert with bananas, sticky rice balls, sago (tapioca balls), taro and langka (jackfruit).
  • Bulalo – A beef bone marrow soup.[61]
  • Champorado – A chocolate rice porridge, sometimes served savory (as with tuyô)[24][63][61]
  • Dinuguan - A pork offal stew.[63]
  • Halo-halo – A cold crushed ice dessert dish of mixed sweets.[58][62]
  • Kare-kare – A stew with the components of ox tripe and ox tails in a yellow, peanut-rich sauce. It is regarded as a local variation of Indian curry.[59]
  • Lumpia – Spring rolls with a vegetable or meat filling.[59]
  • Lomi – A hot noodle soup with distinctly thick egg noodles.[61]
  • Pancit – Fried noodles, often served during birthday celebrations.[59][64]
  • Puto – Steamed rice cake[63]
  • Sinampalukan - Sour chicken soup[65][66]
  • Sinigang – A sour soup of different varieties with meats or fish[58][61][62]
  • Sopas - A creamy soup (usually made with chicken) with macaroni elbows.[61][67][68]
  • Suman – Glutinous rice cake[62]
  • Tsokolate – Hot chocolate drink[61]


Steamed pierogi, with fried onions on top

Some Polish comfort food include:

  • Soups and stews
    • Bigos – hunters stew
    • Barszcz z uszkami – clear beetroot soup with forest mushrooms dumplings
    • Gulasz – goulash / meat and vegetable stew
    • Kapuśniak – sauerkraut soup
    • Rosół – chicken soup with fine noodles
    • Zupa grzybowa – wild mushroom soup
    • Zupa ogórkowa – sour cucumber soup
    • Zupa pomidorowa – clear tomato soup with rice or noodles
    • Zupa szczawiowa – sorrel soup served with boiled egg
    • Żurek – sour rye soup
  • Budyń waniliowy z malinami – vanilla pudding with raspberries
  • Kotlet schabowy – pork schnitzel
  • Golonka – pickled ham hock
  • Jagody ze śmietaną – blueberries with cream
  • Kopytka – small potato dumpling
  • Łazanki – large flat noodles with fried sauerkraut
  • Makaron ze śmietaną i truskawkami – pasta with cream and strawberries
  • Mielone z ziemniakami i mizerią – pork burgers with mashed potatoes and cucumber salad
  • Naleśniki z twarogiem – pancakes with milk curd
  • Pierogi – filled dumplings[24][69][70][71]
  • Placki ziemniaczane – potato pancakes
  • Sernik – baked cheesecake
  • Śledź w oleju – pickled herring
  • Zapiekanka – toasted open-face sandwich

Puerto RicoEdit

Arroz con pollo: chicken with rice

Some Puerto Rican comfort foods include:


Russian comfort foods may include:




Mantı, with yogurt and red pepper sauce

In Turkish, comfort food is closest in meaning to Turkish: Anne yemeği, "mother's dish", especially in terms of providing a nostalgic feeling, or Turkish: Ev yemeği, "home dish". Some Turkish comfort foods are:


Ukrainian comfort foods includes, but aren't limitied to:

  • Borscht — beetroots soup, also there are few variants:
    • Green borscht
    • White borscht
    • Cabbage borscht
  • Deruny — potato pancakes with sour cream
  • Holubtsi — small, medium or large rolls with prepared rice
  • Kasha — kind of porridge
  • Kholodets —
  • Kolach — sweet, round shaped pastry
  • Mlynci — pancakes.
    • Nalysnyky — pancakes with fillings
  • Pampushky — small savory or sweet yeast-raised bun
  • Pyrizhky — backed or fried small donuts with different (mostly fruits or meat) fillings.
  • Syrnyky — fried quark pancakes, garnished with sour cream
  • Varennia — jam
  • Varenyky — Filled dumplings cooked at boiling water
  • Vinehret — Beans and potato salad colored with beetroots


Bangers and mash is a British comfort food.[90]

English comfort foods include:

United StatesEdit

American comfort foods may include the following foods:


German comfort foods may include the following foods:

See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit