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Eating Simply
Comfort Foods

Eating Simply
In today’s frenetic world flavored with fusion cooking, sometimes it’s nice to come home to a traditional favorite. We call such dishes comfort food because it reminds us of home and simpler times. Lately, comfort food has acquired a bad rap for being overly laden with calories, salt, and fat. However, that’s exactly what we love about these longstanding favorites.

In psychological studies, college students showed food preferences by gender. Men generally preferred hearty entrees such as steak, casseroles, and soup, and women favored snack foods such as chocolate and ice cream. Studies offer various reasons for these preferences, ranging from a feeling of being pampered to a preference for less work (i.e., post-preparation cleaning).

Every culture has its version of comfort food, like these:

Chicken soup: Every culture has its version of this global symbol of homey comfort, whether you’re sick or not.

Porridge: Made from oats, wheat, or corn in textures ranging from grainy to smooth, this grain-based mash goes well with honey, cream, fruit, cheese, and seafood. In the American South, the go-to favorite of porridge is shrimp and grits.

Potatoes: Boiled, mashed, drizzled with gravy, and served with sausage (bangers and mash in Great Britain) or julienned, deep fried to a crispy golden brown, and sprinkled with salt (french fries), you can’t go wrong with this starchy favorite.
Fried chicken: Canada and the USA put this at the tops of their comfort food lists. Battered and deep fried to steaming succulence, fried chicken takes center stage at every pot luck.

Grilled cheese sandwich: Another top favorite of North America, the ooey-gooey combination of toasted bread and melted cheese makes for a finger-licking memory, especially when paired with tomato soup.

Ratatouille: This hearty vegetable stew from France reminds us that vegetables make other vegetables taste better. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or sprinkle with cheese.

Beef stew: Another favorite among multiple cultures in every hemisphere, combine savory chunks of beef with winter vegetables and simmer until everything is tender enough to melt in your mouth.

Dumplings: Every culture has its version of these luscious lumps of dough, sometimes filled with meat and/or vegetables. Italy’s bite-sized versions go by the name gnocchi.

Noodles: Another multicultural favorite made of flour, eggs, and water, noodles go with just about anything and often serve in place of potatoes where a starch is needed. Serve in soups or drizzled with savory sauces.

By Karen M. Smith

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