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Comfort Food Around the World?

janetofreno Jan 8, 2009 10:37 PM

DH and I got into a conversation about "comfort food"...and what different cultures/countries consider it to be....

So we're going to ask all of you: what do you consider comfort food? If you've lived in places other than the west coast of the US, have you found the locals' ideas of comfort food varies? What about for different cultures/cuisines?

DH is from India, and his idea of comfort is a big serving of kicheree (sp?) and kadhi (sp? again), with an eggplant shak and rotli......

As I have stated in my profile, I like Cambell's tomato soup with spaghetti...but I am admittedly weird. And Cincinnati-style chili is a close second, but its kind of the same idea......

  1. l
    leeollie Jan 9, 2009 02:05 AM

    We have just been to Salzburg and I came across a 'Germknodel', which is a large warm dumpling filled with plum 'jam' and topped with crushed poppy seeds and hot vanilla custard. They are most often served in ski resorts in Austria. Absolutely, heavenly comfort food! Here's a picture I found http://picasaweb.google.com/allualask...

    3 Replies
    1. re: leeollie
      mjhals Jan 9, 2009 06:57 AM

      Leeollie- I'm leaving for Garmisch, Germany tomorrow and plan on eating if not solely, then definitely mainly, copious amounts of Germknodel! Mmmm, can't wait.
      To the wonderful dumpling in a pool of vanilla heaven I would add the ubiquitous schnitzel. I hated all variations for about two years, until finally, one day I woke up addicted! They are almost universally available in all German restaurants, even "ethnic" ones. The best versions I've had came from an Italian joint and a Thai place, go figure. Most often on the kids meal.

      1. re: mjhals
        Passadumkeg Jan 21, 2009 02:09 PM

        A Salzberg nokkerel (sp?)? Yum!

      2. re: leeollie
        lynnlato Jan 21, 2009 03:51 PM

        That sounds and looks delicious!

      3. alkapal Jan 9, 2009 03:48 AM

        mr. alka, from sri lanka, loves "hoppers"! best served with seeni or pol sambols.

        see last recipe here: http://www.lankalinksystems.com/cgi-bin/recipes/srilankan/book.cgi?Search for the plain hoppers.

        pol sambol: http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=Sri%20lanka%20pol%20sambol%20(coconut%20sambol)

        seeni sambol: http://www.webquarry.com/~raditha/sri...

        beware: these flavors are addictive!

        1. Morganna Jan 9, 2009 04:09 AM

          When I was home sick, I always got campbell's cream of tomato (made with whole milk and a knob of butter dropped in) and a grilled cheese sandwich pressed flat, with velveeta cheese all ooey gooey. That's still something I turn to when I'm feeling ill or low and just need some reminders of childhood.

          Other things that are comforting on different levels are homemade mac and cheese, my mom's recipe for potato salad, and my mom's recipe for stuffing.

          I grew up in the midwest of the US.

          When I was in Juneau, AK, I knew one person whose comfort food was seal stew. *shudder* ;D

          8 Replies
          1. re: Morganna
            alkapal Jan 9, 2009 04:22 AM

            not too "comforting" to the seal. {;^D. (i don't know why that struck me...).

            my comfort food is eggs fried/basted in bacon grease so the yolk is runny, the white is cooked through, and the edge is crispy and a wee bit brown from the bacon grease, with nice stoneground grits, butter and salt. served with rye toast, if i'm at a diner. add good sausage, and i'm very happy. not "comforting" to my arterial system, i'm sure.....

            1. re: alkapal
              Deenso Jan 9, 2009 06:43 AM

              Ooooh, alkapal! I slept through my alarm this morning, dressed and dashed to get to work - late - and now, seated at my reception desk, I'm reading your description of breakfast comfort food. Agreed, completely, up to and including the slightly crisp, browned edges of the eggs and the butter and salt in your grits. My stomach is growling, my mouth is watering and my eyes are tearing just slightly because, in mid-town Manhattan, there's no place where I can find that perfect breakfast (lunch, dinner, whatever...)

              1. re: alkapal
                Morganna Jan 9, 2009 10:16 AM

                *grin* Well a lot of Alaskan Natives have special subsistence hunting rights. I didn't much like the seal I had once (gift from a friend), but the chunk I got, I had no IDEA how to cook or season it so it'd be good. :) But it's prime food up that way. :)

                1. re: alkapal
                  latindancer Jan 9, 2009 10:12 PM

                  Wow that sounds good, alkapal.

                2. re: Morganna
                  BerkshireTsarina Jan 21, 2009 07:40 AM

                  Yes! to the campbell's cream of tomato, made exactly as Morganna describes it. No cheese sandwich though in my childhood --- or even very often now. (Incidentally, home was Brooklyn, USA.)
                  My Japanese friend's daughter always turns to cold rice with soy sauce.
                  Interesting thread!

                  1. re: BerkshireTsarina
                    Sam Fujisaka Jan 21, 2009 09:05 AM

                    If your friend is Japanese, that can't be his/her daughter. Shoyu on rice, indeed!

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                      BerkshireTsarina Jan 21, 2009 11:06 AM

                      Well, she was raised in the US from when she was about 5 --- but her mom always cooks Japanese. I know, we were the beneficiaries for ten years. Oh, how I miss them, shoyu on rice or not!

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                        PAO Jan 21, 2009 03:17 PM

                        Sam is right on! My brother, on the other hand, eats cold rice out of the pot plain.

                  2. r
                    rockycat Jan 9, 2009 05:12 AM

                    I'm about as far from Asian as one can get, but my favorite comfort food is take-out egg drop soup. I have no idea why - it just is.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: rockycat
                      bermudagourmetgoddess Jan 9, 2009 05:40 AM

                      My husband is from Bermuda, where live now and part Portuguese, so our favorites are:

                      Portuguese Fava Bean "Stew" with lots of red wine, garlic and portuguese sausage
                      My husbands Bermuda Fish Chowder with Black Rum and Sherry Peppers, it takes him two days to make it and it is worth it!

                      Oh but rockycat, how I miss really good take out egg drop soup!

                      1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess
                        PAO Jan 9, 2009 06:31 AM

                        Indonesia: nasi goreng (fried rice--I personally have to have it with trasi--dried shrimp paste--otherwise it's just like anyone else's fried rice). Malaysia/Singapore: prawn mee soup or chicken rice or roti canai. Japan: okazu (sort of like congee), miso soup, udon (noodle soup). Mexico: chilaquiles. These, of course, are just suggestions. Japanese Americans: bacon-fried rice; egg rice (hot rice mixed with a beaten raw egg and soy sauce). I've never been to Italy, but personally consider risotto and polenta with cheese or some sort of sauce as a topping comfort food

                        1. re: PAO
                          PAO Jan 9, 2009 06:54 AM

                          Also in a lot of Latin American countries, beans and rice.

                          1. re: PAO
                            PAO Jan 9, 2009 10:49 AM

                            Oops. I meant ochazuke, not okazu. Rice with hot tea poured over it.

                      2. t
                        TampaAurora Jan 9, 2009 08:33 AM

                        Matzo ball soup with root vegetables, pastina or orzo with dill in chicken broth ,Cinnamon Sugar Noodles, Pho Ga, Good Old fashioned PB and J - lately natural PB and Cherry or Apricot Jam on a honey whole wheat bread, PB and Bacon on an Everything Bagel. My Bubbe's Cabbage Borscht or my Nanny's Brisket. Roast Chicken.

                        1. Sam Fujisaka Jan 9, 2009 11:47 AM

                          Tamales and atole in the mornings in Mexico and Guatemala; oyakodomburi in Japan; momos in Nepal; emadashi in Bhutan; sancocho in Colombia; beans (large white) and rice in Madagascar; manisoba, rice, farofa, and meat in Brazil; ugali and chicken in Kenya; chicken soup with chicken feet in the Altiplano of Bolivia; moros y cristianos and fried cheese in Costa Rica; dinuguan or adobo and rice in the Philippines; ...

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                            lagatta Jan 11, 2009 05:52 PM

                            Sam, I'm sure I'm not the only person visiting this site who wishes you'd find time to write a cookbook!

                            1. re: lagatta
                              Sra. Swanky Jan 21, 2009 06:55 AM

                              Absolutely! C'mon Sam!! :o)

                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                              pikawicca Jan 11, 2009 05:59 PM

                              Good beans and rice in any country.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                fresnohotspot Jan 19, 2009 06:32 PM

                                I am a slave to pork adobo and good steamed rice. My daughter also just asked me to fix a hot bowl of sinigang to warm the cool January chill.

                              2. Paula76 Jan 9, 2009 06:37 PM

                                One of the main comfort foods in Argentina is 'milanesa con papas fritas' (veal fillets covered in breadcrumbs and fried served with chips) and empanadas (similar to pasties with different fillings).

                                1. l
                                  Lucia Jan 9, 2009 06:43 PM

                                  I'm Americanized now, so comfort food for me these days is brunch (eggs, french toast), fries, ice cream, pie, etc. But, I still have a little Eastern European in me (Romanian), so sausage, stuffed cabage, and mamaliga still make me feel like home.

                                  1. jeni1002 Jan 9, 2009 10:44 PM

                                    Romanian here, too (but I guess these fall under the personal category of 'comfort food'):
                                    * Mamaliga (i.e., loose hot polenta) with lots of farmer's cheese and yogurt
                                    * A sweet pasta casserole my mom used to make similar to a kugel
                                    * Borsch

                                    Other dishes have acquired this status over the years: miso soup, oatmeal, chili...

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: jeni1002
                                      Athena Jan 10, 2009 12:50 AM

                                      For this Bermudian it's macaroni and cheese like my father made it, with loads of NZ 'rat cheese' all golden and melted on top. Or one of those big fat fish sandwiches slathered with may-naise.

                                      1. re: Athena
                                        bermudagourmetgoddess Jan 20, 2009 08:33 AM

                                        Funny macaroni and cheese is a favorite here! But don't forget the Baked Chicken Legs and Peas N Rice.

                                        And yes, a big fried fish sandwich from the Fish Hut wtih tarter and hot sauce! yummm

                                        Not sure if a Bermudian can eat a meal without may-naise!

                                        1. re: Athena
                                          bdachow Jan 20, 2009 11:49 AM

                                          Lol, you're right on there Athena and Bermudagourmetgoddess. Can't go anywhere without seeing mac and cheese on the menus! And definitely can't have a fish sandwich without mayo and hot sauce. Yum!

                                          Vietnamese: pho of any kind, big bowl of steaming hot broth and slurpy noodles send me into nirvana
                                          Chinese: congee of any flavor, nothing fancy, when I have a cold, this is my go to
                                          Malaysian: Laksa, particularly the Penang style...mmmmm
                                          Western: bring on the bacon and fried egg sandwich with a slice of processed cheese to hold it all together!

                                          Then there's chocolate in all its incarnations......

                                          1. re: bdachow
                                            bermudagourmetgoddess Jan 21, 2009 07:34 AM

                                            I love great Vietnamese and Chinese but bdachow you know as well as I do there is non of that here! And how I miss it.

                                            Thank goodness that some stores are now bringing in the stock so we can make at home!

                                            1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess
                                              bdachow Jan 21, 2009 08:17 AM

                                              Yes I do miss it dearly. Which makes it all the more amusing everytime I get off the island and come back with a suitcase of food products. The poor customs people that search my bag always give me a funny look. Last time was with the "century eggs" for my congee.

                                              1. re: bdachow
                                                bermudagourmetgoddess Jan 21, 2009 08:28 AM

                                                LOL...I am so glad that I'm not the only one who comes back with a suitcase full of food! Last time for us was Cured meats from China Town and Little Italy !

                                      2. c
                                        ceekskat Jan 10, 2009 08:16 AM

                                        Moved here when I was 9 from Southern India but still, comfort food to me is rice with rasam (spicy tomato & tamarind soup). This is also comforting after plane travel (always queasy) & when sick.

                                        1. luckyfatima Jan 10, 2009 09:09 AM

                                          hahaha Janet your husband is Gujarati, I would say that is Gujarati veg. comfort food, not Indian comfort food. A South Indian might say idli/dosa and sambhaar, a Bengali would say something else altogether, most definately involving fish, fried vegetables, and mustard oil.

                                          I love Gujarati kichRi, if you have any recipes, please do post.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: luckyfatima
                                            janetofreno Jan 11, 2009 12:43 AM

                                            yes, you are of course right. And hubby did mention that idli/sambar is another comfort food (He is Gujarati, but spent a lot of time in Southern India growing up and learned to love the food....).

                                            Another (Gujarati) favorite comfort food of his is dal dhokli....

                                            1. re: luckyfatima
                                              adrienne156 Jan 21, 2009 04:05 PM

                                              I'm first-generation Bengali and I'd say aloo bharta and masoor dal over white rice and jhal moori (puffed rice, some kind of channa chur - most likely "Indian Hot Mix" brand, fried onions, sliced chilies, some minced ginger tossed in a wok); the aloo bharta and moori both spiked with a bit of mustard oil. :) Not sure about the fried veggies though... Do you mean deep fried or sauteed in a pan, because sauteed in a pan with onions, garlic, arbol chilies, turmeric and/or panch phoran, and shrimp definitely yes. As for the fish, I grew up eating catfish curry cooked with tomatoes, ginger, potatoes, and cilantro which I'm partial to which is similar to a very popular fish not found in the States, but others would probably say hilsa baked with ground mustard.

                                              And, not sure why, Khichuri was always cooked on rainy days.

                                              ETA: What are yours Fatima?

                                            2. Will Owen Jan 10, 2009 01:30 PM

                                              Tomato soup (yes, ALWAYS made w/milk) and grilled cheese was snowy-day comfort food; doesn't quite have the same effect here where the palm trees sway. At the moment I'm swimming out from under the holidays' surfeit of comfort food, all the various renditions of pork and potatoes and cabbage, and the latest batch of beef stew with pappardelle, to which I added some creamed mushrooms last night just to make it more dietetic (yeah, sure!).

                                              Mrs. O's personal favorite, ever since our trip to Hong Kong back in '95, has been congee. She doesn't have it much anymore since she's been trying to shun simple carbs as much as possible, but if she's feeling under the weather I can give her some chicken-flavored congee made from one of those pouches we get at the Asian markets, and maybe a scrambled egg and some toast, and she will be grateful.

                                              1. Candy Jan 10, 2009 04:45 PM

                                                DH and I are discussing this. We have a NAFTA marriage. Me from the Az. border of Mexico and he is from the Canadian border of NY. For me Sonoran style enchiladas, stacked enchiladas,meatless, and with a fried egg on top, him "Michigan Hot Dogs" they have nothing to do with the state of Michigan and if any of you have read previous posts they have been discussed. When we go back to Plattsburgh we cannot complete the trip without a "Michigan" a trip back to Az in incomplete without green corn tamales. I was just posting to an Az. cousin how much I miss them and had a discussion with a local restaurant owner on Fri. PM about them.We both agreed, in Indiana, Green Corn Tamales are impossible. The right type of corn needed to make them is impossible to get. In the corn vein grits will also always be pure comfort food.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Candy
                                                  janetofreno Jan 11, 2009 12:45 AM

                                                  ahh, yes...grits. A favorite comfort food of mine. Of course, where I live I either have to cook them myself or travel to the south to eat them....

                                                  1. re: janetofreno
                                                    lifespan Jan 11, 2009 05:29 AM

                                                    Yes, grits. But for me, they must be topped with red-eye gravy to enter the territory of comfort. If we're talking regional comfort (and the upper south is my region of origin), I think homemade biscuits and sausage gravy offer the most comfort. An elixir. After indulging, I can hardly remember anything - much less what ails me. My mind is filled with only one thought: "My God, that was good. I won't need to do this again for a long time." For more healthful comfort, I turn to noodle dishes.

                                                    1. re: lifespan
                                                      Will Owen Jan 11, 2009 12:46 PM

                                                      Mmmmm, grits. I just got a box of Alber's, yes I know it's supermarket food, but they're HOMINY grits, which I prefer. Made a batch of garlic-cheese grits this morning and dropped two fried eggs on top. Brown'n'serve sausage and sourdough toast, too! Comforted the heck out of me...

                                                2. JanPrimus Jan 11, 2009 08:05 AM

                                                  I first made this when I was like 11 or 12....

                                                  A can of corned beef hash, about a cup of frozen corn, half a stick of butter and a metric shit load of something spicy (usually chopped Jalapeno's). I usually end up tossing some Franks Hot Sauce on it too.

                                                  I have never made it for another and I doubt anyone but me would love it...but it comforts me.

                                                  1. a
                                                    AngelSanctuary Jan 14, 2009 02:45 PM

                                                    Homemade soup, like, every Chinese family have their own unique kind.

                                                    And congee! I like smoked turkey.

                                                    And steamed buns (man tou...0

                                                    1. steve h. Jan 14, 2009 03:07 PM

                                                      chicken rice (singapore) is pretty good. mondoo (korea) is pretty good, too. state-side, i like a good cheeseburger (with onion rings). porchetta in italy has its moments but at the end of the day, i prefer a salumi platter with a chilled tocai.
                                                      it all works.

                                                      1. kchurchill5 Jan 19, 2009 05:19 PM

                                                        Corned Beef Hash or Mac and Cheese and Meatloaf third are my three top pics. Although who can resist a pot of chicken noodle soup.

                                                        Some good friends from Germany made this unbelievable stuffed mashed potato balls with this rich beef that had sauteed all day. It was unbelievable and they called it their staple comfort food. I wish I could remember the name of it. In FL, conch chowder people really stand bye. It is interesting to see the differences.

                                                        1. r
                                                          rice bowl Jan 20, 2009 11:10 AM

                                                          More India... conventional "comfort foods" include dal chawal (rice with dal), dahi chawal (rice with yogurt), khichidi (many spellings for this), idli sambar, dosa of every type, potato curry (aloo sabzi) with puri, halwa, kadhi with rice, biryani, pulau. Rajma. Dal or pappu or lentils in most forms. Most sabzi, but aloo sabzi especially. Chole bhature. Aloo paratha, gobhi paratha. Starchy stuff, all of it. Keep those serotonin levels high.

                                                          Anecdotal votes for comfort food from the family include khichidi, plain rice mixed with yogurt eaten at the end of a meal, hot and sour fish pulusu, idli, and saag paneer.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: rice bowl
                                                            alkapal Jan 21, 2009 05:34 AM

                                                            oh yeah, saag and saag paneer! i could eat it every day!

                                                          2. oana Jan 20, 2009 12:19 PM

                                                            In Romania my favorite was stuffed peppers with sour cream and an amazing bean soup with smoked sausages and of course ... sour cream :),
                                                            Happy eating :), Oana

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: oana
                                                              buttertart Jan 21, 2009 09:22 AM

                                                              Would you have a recipe for the bean soup? Always on the lookout for the elusive perfect bean soup...thanks!

                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                oana Jan 21, 2009 09:28 AM

                                                                absolutely I will call my father and get the exact one for you. I have made it since for myself but if I am going to pass it on it should be his :)
                                                                happy eating, Oana

                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                  oana Jan 21, 2009 09:48 AM

                                                                  Hi buttertart,

                                                                  Here it is. No quantities because you know how elders are with their recipes - "a little of this and a little of that and what do you mean exactly how much?! just use your eyes!" ... :)

                                                                  I translated from Romanian:

                                                                  Soak Romano beans in hot water and salt and add a little oil on top. Soak overnight.
                                                                  In the morning add beans, 3-4 homemade Hungarian smoked sausages (it is the quality of the sausages that makes this soup so make sure you find the best :), carrots and parsnips (add these half way through cooking to avoid annihilation) to pot of cold unsalted water. Bring to a boil and once beans are almost cooked add salt - to taste.

                                                                  Then make a rue. Finely chop onions. Fry the onions and add flour and a little paprika. Always add less flour because you can always add more later to thicken. Stir until flour cooks a little then add cold water little by little and stir until it becomes like "sour cream". Then add rue to the boiling soup until it cooks in.

                                                                  Serve with sour cream and it is heavenly :). Simple but superb :).
                                                                  I also like to eat it with raw onions doused in a little vinegar :)

                                                                  If you make it let me know how it turns out so I can pass it along to my dad; he will be happy to know a new generation is using his old techniques :)

                                                                  Happy eating :), Oana

                                                                  1. re: oana
                                                                    buttertart Jan 21, 2009 12:09 PM

                                                                    Thanks Oana! We are forever reminiscing about a soup that sounds just like this one that we had in a Czech restaurant in Toronto about a million years ago. Will definitely try and report on it. All best, BT

                                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                                      oana Jan 22, 2009 07:20 AM

                                                                      So welcome! :) Wonderful I can't wait to hear about it :). To you too BT.
                                                                      Happy eating, Oana

                                                              2. g
                                                                grabtrees Jan 21, 2009 09:41 AM

                                                                sucker for southern mac and cheese! its so cheesy!

                                                                1. Passadumkeg Jan 21, 2009 03:13 PM

                                                                  New Jersey: a Taylor Pork Roll sandwich, an Italian hot dog, "a slice" of tomato pie, and for jfood, a real sloppy Joe.
                                                                  Philly: the ubiquitous cheese steak
                                                                  Viet Nam: pho (definately not Spam).
                                                                  New Mexico: posole, a stuffed soppapilla or a stacked enchilada w/ a fried egg on top! Ooo,ooo, a Frito pie!
                                                                  Russia: borscht or schi (cabbage soup) with a dollop (ain't that a great word?) of sour cream; or sausage(kolbasa) potatoes and saurkraut (kapusta).
                                                                  Norway: lapskaus; or boiled cod and boiled potatoes and boiled carrots.
                                                                  Finland: pea soup w/ blood pancakes every Thursday. No kiddin'!
                                                                  Bolivia: saltenas (sorry Sam); or in the lowlands, majadito, a rice dish w/ charque (dried beef) and fried egg on top of the whole deal. A little coca leaf and ash tucked in the gums?
                                                                  Brazil: feijoada, a black bean and mega meat stew, served w. sliced orange and greens.
                                                                  Maine: seafood chowdah (lobsters are for tourists). My says it's potatoes in any shape or form. The comfort drink: Allen's coffee brandy and milk.
                                                                  Me? A good chile dog, taco, fried clam or lobster roll; and saltenas when I can get 'em. (I'm counting down to April 20th.)

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                    Sam Fujisaka Jan 21, 2009 03:36 PM

                                                                    You coming down in April??

                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                      Passadumkeg Jan 21, 2009 03:41 PM

                                                                      Sorry, I get my fix of saltenas at Mi Bolivia restaurant in Queens NYC. We have spring break and going to "the blessing of the graves" for my folks and do some visiting w/ elderly aunts and uncles while they're still here. They are excellent chowhounds as well. It's my NYC fix and bird watching at the Jersey shore. Winter in Maine, Spring in NJ; amazing what a day's drive can do.

                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                        pikawicca Jan 21, 2009 04:03 PM

                                                                        Is there a definite date in April?

                                                                        1. re: pikawicca
                                                                          Passadumkeg Jan 21, 2009 04:15 PM

                                                                          Not yet, but between the 20th and 25th.

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