Comfort food

From ArticleWorld

Comfort food is any food or drink that elevates a person's mood, is a rewarding finale to difficult work, provides solace or comfort, or brings back warm memories, often of childhood or meaningful experiences. The concept is possibly a product of the United States, and the phrase is used most in the English language, but most cultures have their sets of foods eaten during illness, difficult times, or stress.

Food and mood

Comfort food is generally based on a simple or complex carbohydrate, often sweet in cultures where sweetness is prized, such as the US and UK, and equally often with a sizable component of either fat, protein, or both. The near-universal presence of carbohydrates, whether potatoes, rice, or white sugar, is attributed to their dulling, opiate-like effect on the brain, although the food-mood connection remains scientifically controversial. Common belief is that carbohydrates, particularly in conjunction with protein or micronutrients, elevates the level of seratonin in the brain, resulting in a feeling of relaxation or wellness. Seratonin is also the chemical that regulates sleep.

Kinds of comfort food

A yummy chocolate cookie
A yummy chocolate cookie

Much used in Hollywood movies and 'chick lit', comfort food for women has been stereotyped as sugary, fatty, and chocolatey – ice cream, potato chips, and chocolate, and for men reduced to beer and pizza. In reality there are more substantial and nutritious comfort foods everywhere. In the Western world, soups are common, as are combinations like liver-and-onions, mashed potato, sausages-and-sour cabbage, bread, apple pie, custard etc. In China, Hong Kong etc, and places with Chinese communities, congee and char siu bao or steamed barbecue pork buns come to be adopted by many non-Chinese too. In south India comfort food could be the fluffy idli or thayir sadam, and in Japan, mochi cakes or ochazuki. South-east and East Asian cultures often use a combination of eggs and rice, such as the Korean/ Japanese omo rice. Beans and rice offer solace to North and Central American Latino communities, while in the Caribbean it could be akee and salt fish or jerk chicken, and in west and central Africa, fufu with a thick stew or gravy, and jollof rice.