Musing on the range of comfort food - what dishes hug you?
- thew Mar 22, 2008 08:25 AM
i had a crappy week this week and turned, as im sure many chowhounds do, to some comforting food, the last 2 nights. The first night I used my rice cooker to make a rice soup/porridge/congee sort of dish, with leftover smoked pork chop bits, frozen peas and corn, mushrooms and the spices found in 5 spice powder. (t was a clean out the fridge sort of soup) The next night i made some dashi, flavored it with soy ginger and mirin, added tofu udon noodles scallions and japanese 7 spice.
I guess what made them both comfort food for me was the warm soupiness. but while i was eating the udon it struck me that despite the similarity of being soup based (and sorta asian inspired) how different these 2 dishes were - one a complex melange of flavors with dense rice and chunks of meat and veg, and the other almost minimalist as only japanese cuisine can be, and yet both worked as comfort food. This got me musing on how many different foods can be seen as comfort food from heavy and rich dishes - meatloaf mashed potatoes etc, or relatively simple light ones like the aforementioned udon.
I'm not sure what i'm getting at here, but i wanted to share these thoughts with my fellow CHs and i guess get a sense of the range of what food gives you a hug.
some other comfort foods off the top of my head:
(these last 3 clearly from my childhood and ethnic heritage)
dutch style pancakes
sometime a good cheeseburger
what are some of yours? I'm especially interested in people who have radicaly different foods they still consider comfort food
(does this topic make any sense or have any traction? we shall see)
Oyakodonburi; musubi & teriyaki chicken, pork, or beef; or inarizushi
Laab & khao niyao (sticky rice)
Wurst, sauerkraut, and (sorry) hot rice
Meatloaf & hot rice
Enchiladas, tamales, or tacos
Momos, Chinese dumplings, or ravioli
Fresh naan from a tandoor
A good burger
I wouldn't call this radically different (for someone who grew up in a Scottish-Canadian household anyway) but here's my list:
Peanut Butter and Banana on toast (mainly because Dad used to make it for me)
Chicken Noodle Soup (more stuff than broth)
Homemade macaroni and cheese
Maple taffy pulled from fresh clean snow
One of the best sandwiches I've ever had was in Cambridge Mass, Central Square, a small Italian pizza place. I had the most incredible eggplant parm sandwich of my life, and it was for breakfast. It took him about 20 minutes to make it. I've sat in the car and ate it. I've never had anything quite like it since.
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with lots of gravy
A big stack of fluffy pancakes with lots of butter and syrup
Chili with cheddar, onions, sour cream, elbow macaroni, and cornbread
Perfect roasted chicken, mashed potatoes
Medium rare burger with american cheese and oven roasted french fries
Most excellent macaroni and cheese
You must be from New England/Boston.That's the only place where people can relate to American Chop Suey! I remember that it was a meal that always followed the next night after meatloaf. The leftover meatloaf was crumbled and fried up in a pan with celery and stewed tomatoes and mixed into macaroni, really good.
Not just a New England thing - they served American Chop Suey in my high school in northern New Jersey as well. I always made sure I brought a sandwich the day they served it. Something about the elbow macaroni growing ever so huge and turning into beyond-mushy as they sat and absorbed the liquid in the dish turned me off.
Phad thai with tamarind! Phad thai with tamarind! Phad thai with tamarind!
And pretty much anything I have (had) at my Grandma's cottage. Whether I'm actually there with extended family, or whether I make the dish elsewhere, recipes I have made/eaten there are my ultimate comfort foods.
But really, phad thai with tamarind!
pasta e ceci (chickpeas & egg noodles in oniony tomato sauce)
eggplant caponata on crunchy toast
avgolemono (egg, chicken & lemon soup)
Stovetop stuffing :)
butterscotch & tapioca pudding ( after a bad week, it takes a lot of self-control not to polish off one of those Kozy Shack containers!!)
re: Paul Weller
Do you have a recipe you are willing to share? (on the home cooking thread-or we get booted) We had beef rouladen at a Greman resto and my DH wants me to duplicate. But to me, it just tasted like dried beef rolls. Comfort food to me is beef stew or chilli with cornbread and of course,chocolate chip cookies freshly made hot from the oven.
Something my mother's family called scratch beans
Hot chocolate on rainy days or snowy nights
Poi, lomi salmon and laulau
linguica, eggs and rice
Day old spaghetti fried in a teflon pan until a crusty and slightly burned
chicken pot pie
hangover soup (tomato based soup-bone broth with pasta)
roast pork with plenty of garlic and extra crispy skin
shaved beef on a roll (hoagie style) thats been dipped in the drippings
I remember being a kid of 14 or so, cross country skiing with a friend on a Saturday afternoon. We parted and I walked the mile or so to my sisters house with my skis over my shoulder. It was COLD, and bleak, the sky darkening at 4:00pm and I was ravaneous. I was invited to eat lasagna.
I ate her lasagna before and since that occasion, but that one time, I'll tell you, it was one of the most incredible meals I ever had - truly comforting!
I'm thinking circumstances really set our moods for eating!
my most recent comfort food experience. hot, buttered, potato bread toast with tea. followed by a huge dish of hagen-daz butter pecan and rum raisin ice creams - unmixed. a bite of butter pecan . . . a bite of rum raisin . . . a bite of butter pecan . . . etc. etc. etc.
French toast, my grandma's homemade chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes (and I earn it, I'm usually the one that picks the chicken off the bones), Kraft macaroni and cheese with a can of tuna, mint chip ice cream.
Pastina w/ parmesan cheese or Egg Noodles w/ Parm and Butter but prefer former
White Rice cooked with 2 parts milk and one part sugar in a rice cooker til the bottom is brown and crusted (my mouth is watering now...)
Mint Chip Ice Cream
Cinnamon Rolls - gooey w/ cream cheese frosting
Mac'n'cheese (yes Kraft for real comfort)
Rice Krispie Treats
Mashed Potatoes or Stuffing w/ Gravy
And the dark horses, Otter Pops and Push-Ups
Kjottkaker (Norwegian meatballs w/ boiled potatoes and gravy (the ones the Kjottkaker were cooked in)
Frikadellen w/ boiled potatoes and gravy from the Frikadellen
real Texas barbecue
real Texas chili
Campbell's tomato soup made with milk and a bit of cream if there's any around, must always have a pat of butter melting on top. (This was my make-you-feel-better-when-you're-staying-home-from-school lunch when I was a child.) Also salmon croquettes (made from canned salmon) with cold spaghetti, and corn chowder (latest version simple, pure, and innocent, from Arthur Schwartz's What to Cook When There's Nothing in the House). And like so many others, chicken soup, preferably with noodles.
grilled cheese: challah toast with Canadian chedder and tomato
Egg salad and lettuce on pumpernickel
My grandmother's chicken soup and mushroom barley soup
INDIAN BUFFET: Salaam Bombay
lamb chops with rosemary, mashed potatoes and Le Seur peas
My mother's spaghetti and meat sauce
A VERY LARGE bowl of salad: mixed bay greens with an emphasis on arugala, thinly sliced red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, chick peas - topped with feta and mixed sprouts -- dressing has to be red wine, fresh garlic, olive oil, S&P
Old school red clam sauce with a side of spinach - omg
All the dim sum I can eat with an emphasis on pea shoot and shrimp in chrystal wrapper
Old school Italian veal sandwich - pounded thin, lightly breaded and stacked on crusty bread - topped with sweet and hot peppers, mushrooms and sauteed onions
My comfort foods range from childhood favorites (macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, grilled cheese, chocolate ice cream) to comforting foods I've discovered as an adult (English fish stew with dumplings, mariner's pie, pasties, Chinese noodle dishes, Japanese ramen and udon noodle soups, bubble and squeak).
And one that spans the ages: freshly baked bread, and pastries.
I was raised in Florida, so my comfort foods are generally some variation of either Cuban or Soul Food
Grits made with cheese and smothered in red-eye gravy
Breyer's vanilla ice cream
On my profile, I note that "all food is comfort food" and in the right circumstance, that is almost always true (with the exception of green onions). But here is a list of my favorites:
Inari sushi (But Korean style)
Any chicken soup (chicken noodle, chicken congee, samkyetang, matzoh ball soup are favorites)
Korean oxtail soup
Spaghetti and meatballs
Rice in water (bab mool marasau) and o-ee-gee (mum's korean pickles seasoned with Korean style spices) and Jang-jor-rim (jalapenos stuffed with beef then stewed in soy sauce)
Roast chicken (especially with mashed potato)
Has anyone mentioned chocolate? Cause definitely chocolate!
Blueberry pancakes and bacon
Soon Dubu (tofu soup)
Lots of soup, lots of carbs. Not a surprise. But also lots of chocolate!
re: Miss Needle
Re: Korean style inari sushi:
I'm not claiming this is 100% correct, but when my Korean mother makes this, she will finely dice carrots, mushrooms, sometimes cucumber skin and add it to the rice. The few commercial sushi vendors that have offered this combination have been run by Koreans, not Japanese. So I think of this as Korean style Inari sushi. What I have seen of Japanese Inari sushi has not included chopped vegetables in the rice. So I assumed this was a Korean take on this dish. But I am happy to be corrected if someone knows better!
re: Sam Fujisaka
Corrected I am! Do you saute the veggies before you throw it in the rice? I must say, I really love the vegetables in it. It has a lovely appearance and I really love it when the mushroom is dried shitake, it adds a wonderful flavour.
So I amend my list to include: inari sushi with bits of vegetable in it.
I am making her chicken spaghetti today. Loved loved loved!! the Carrot cake!! The marlboro man sandwich is fantastic too but you need to set-up a heart bypass within the next week. I even made her version of the Chex mix and it is devine. All of her dishes can be labled as comfort food. :)
Chicken soup with dumplings
Macaroni and cheese
warm chocolate chip cookies
I think I need all of these right now...
Meatloaf (I make them individual sized)
Beef stew w/ mashed potaotes
pastina with just a little butter and salt
roasted chicken with rice
noddles & butter
chocolate pudding pie
whole wheat banana pancakes
beans & spaetzle
garlic mashed potatoes
warm croissant with raspberry jam
I find it interesting that most foods named here as comfort foods are either starchy and/or sugary, or cheesy -- with the best and most satisfying combo being mac and cheese, then.
Clearly, the comforting effect carbs have on people aren't total b.s.
Poor Atkins people '-)
Ohhh, I completely forgot about bread pudding! Story time: I went out to Denver to visit a friend for a week. 12 hour overnight train ride back, couldn't sleep. I got home and my mom sat me down with a bowl of warm bread pudding with vanilla glaze on top. It was the best thing ever.
Definitely risotto as my number one pick.
Chicken and noodles or chicken and dumplings.
Homemade bread... the plain, white, country style.
Chocolate or vanilla pudding
A bowl of hot, buttered popcorn
Very ordinary, but that's a result of my upbringing in rural PA.
Oh, I forgot about that too! Love the cinnamon toast.
Also, challah torn from the loaf in hunks, with Breakstone sweet whipped butter (I never buy this but it's always in my father's fridge).
And of course "Animal crackers and cocoa to drink/That is the finest of suppers I think ..."
Baked custard with a nice skin on top. Always in my now deceased grandmother's fridge to keep grandpa and the boys happy.
Many of my other favorites are already listed so I won't repeat.
mom's salmon croquettes with burned onions and lumpy mashed potatoes
mom's stuffed shells
mil's eggplant parm and homemade carrot & chocolate cakes
kasha varnishkes with burned onions
my own homemade chicken soup
egg noodles & pot cheese
extra sharp provolone with a fruity zin
well-done plain bagel with a philly schmear & nova
warm cinnamon raisin bagel
king vitamin cereal
black raspberry chip ice cream
challah french toast with warm maple syrup
It's leftover mashed potatoes and veggies (commonly cabbage and something else) panfried together the next day. As the potato heats up in the pan it kinda bubbles and the cold veggies mixed into the mash potato when a naked side hits the pan it squeaks :)
And it's damn tasty!
kolbasi sandwich w/ kraut
Taylor Pork Roll w/ fried egg and ketchup on a Kaise roll
hot crab dip
clean out the fridg. medley
brie/camembert cheese w/ fruit
Garlic mashed potatoes with grated sharp cheddar
Grilled cheese sandwiches with bread and butter pickles
Oatmeal with warm chunky applesauce, cinnamon and kefir
Apple, banana, yoghurt, honey, mint, & ginger smoothie
Bacon and fried eggs, and hashbrowns with catsup
fresh biscuits with country ham or butter
sweet potato biscuits with country ham
saurkraut and hotdogs with mashed potatoes
a dip cone from Dairy Queen
yogurt and Kashi crunch
Sourdough pretzels and a cold Heineken
lightly salted toasted pecans
crisp apples with kosher salt
Reese's peanut butter eggs (good pb to chocolate ratio)
a really good cup of coffee
FRESH iced tea with real lemon
homemade fried basmati rice
I could go on and on...
I make regular basmati, following the package directions. Scramble a couple of eggs and break them up, add some diced veggies, usually carrots, peas and always Spring onion, Add cooked diced meat, a touch of sesame oil, the rice, sesame seeds and lots of soy sauce. Voila! Basmati fried rice.
potatoes or noodles w/butter and salt
chicken soup w/lots of noodles
hot plain white rice
dumplings simmered in broth
coffee ice cream
hot chocolate chip cookies w/ a big, cold glass of milk
Peanut butter and honey on toast
Grandma's cinnamon buns
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Spoon sized Shredded wheat--served warm with brown sugar
Funeral cookies (these are chocolate oatmeal drop cookies my mom makes)
Warm cinnnamon danish
Ben and Jerry's ice cream w additional melted pb
Chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes with biscuits
Pancakes w/hot syrup
pizza and beer
cold peaches and 7-up....only food I want when I am sick
warm chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with milk
potatoe soup with dumplings
linguine alle vongole
lobster with drawn butter
really good dim sum, with an emphasis on shellfish and pea shoots :)
xiao long bao
sichuanese sesame noodles
ma po tofu
my mom's fried pierogi with onions and sour cream, meat varenecki, vegetarian beet borscht (hot or cold).
home made gnocchi with a plain tomato sauce
lentil and vegetable soup with grated parm
deep fried asparagus fritters
really good hummus, musabaha, baba ganouj and falafel.
So many...so many...I can't choose.
chicken & noodles
good spicy chili
chipped beef gravy on toast
meatball porcupines (ground beef,onion and rice meatballs cooked in tomato sauce)
grilled cheese sandwich
roast beef with taters and gravy
my Mom's Dilly bread
Anything roasted - meats and/or veg - especially leg of lamb
Soft boiled egg on toast with sausage
grits with butter, salt & pepper
Anything potato, especially kugel
grilled cheese & cream of tomato soup
egg foo young from a very specific restaurant from my youth
steamed stuffed buns
chicken fried steak, mashed & gravy
extra aged gouda with crackers & glass of good red
bourbon & branch, light on the branch
a nice mug of tea & mandelbrot
toasted buttered Cuban bread & cafe con leche
all four corners from a pan of brownies!
Shrimp and Chicken Sizzling RIce Soup and an order of Pot Stickers from Chi Dynasty when I'm sad, hung-over, or just home from a loooong backpacking/camping/kayak trip.
At home, mashed potatos and gravy.
Nothing makes me happier.
When I was a heartbroken teen, the only way to get me to come out of my room for dinner were the words "but we made mashed potatos and gravy..."
Homemade macaroni & cheese
Roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and peas
Pot roast or beef stew (on a snowy weekend afternoon)
Chicken noodle soup when I'm sick and tucked under a blanket on the couch
Chocolate chip cookies....anytime. :-)
Macaroni & Cheese
Cornbread w/ butter
What can I say...I'm from the south!
oatmeal raisin cookies
My grandparent's homemade cornbread, hot from the oven with a pat of butter melted in the middle. Always makes me happy.
Vegetable pasties, especially when eaten at a tiny little pastie shop in Michigan's upper pennisula, with ketchup...feels so homey
Annie's mac and cheese with a side of harvard style beets, mixed together to make "pink mac", a childhood tradition
Grilled cheese on sourdough bread, with Campbell's tomato soup, and apple sauce. I like to dip the crusts in the applesauce
Malt-o-Meal and buttery toast to scrape up the last bits from the bowl when I finish
Pierogies and sauerkraut, often with soy sausage, and some cooked spinach with pepper
Mai fun noodles cooked in a veggie broth (with a bit of black bean paste) and frozen stir-fry veggies
Braised beef of just about any type(short ribs, brisket, cheeks, shanks, etc) with mashed potatoes, long cooked beans(blackeyes,white, pintos) rice pudding made with condensed milk and raisins, custards of any kind, Thai red curry, chicken and corn chowder, french toast, made from my mother's 3 day old challah, stuff from kid-dom; good mac-n-cheese, and the old standby, tuna noodle casserole( I actually made a version of this with grilled Ahi tuna, homemade egg noodles, shitake mushrooms, cream, asiago cheese,sauteed leeks and fresh english peas, It was terrific, but not "better" than the standard one when seasoned a little.
Steak and Kidney pie
Sardines on Toast
CHeese on Toast
Split Pea soup with crackers
Chili eaten with tortilla chips
Aglio et Olio noodles (garlic and Olive Oil)
Baked Potato with alll the extras
Soft Boiled egg on toast
Bangers and mash
the list could go on for a while and as you can see I love things on toast! very english of me I know :)
respectfully disagree... i find lobster steamed very comforting, particularly the claws; it reminds me of great childhood birthdays and occasions, but certainly ain't cheap.
nor is my favorite restaurant comfort food dessert: cynthia's cobbler. over 10 bucks but well worth it, IMHO.
I hadn't thought of it as a comfort food until now, but I've got to agree. There is little that can ease away the stress of the day like a dinner of steamed lobster or crab legs, dipped in drawn butter and accompanied with a glass of great white wine.
Alas, neither those things or any other groceries are cheap anymore, but that's a wail for another thread.