What Comfort Food Looks Like Around the World

“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness.”

– Eli Brown


Whether it’s a hot skillet loaded with gooey mac and cheese, a simmering bowl of tortilla soup, or a big plate of spaghetti with extra sauce and a hefty meatball, there’s a reason we look to dishes like these to make us feel better.

Comfort food is nostalgic. It has the power to reignite fond memories of loved ones who have nurtured us and shown us affection through cooking. It gives us a sense of safety.  Comfort food also brings pleasure. The food’s texture, flavor and aroma all have a way of stimulating our senses. 

But comfort food varies where you are. We’ve asked our hosts from eight different cities around the world to share their go-to comfort foods and what it means to them.

1. Sopita de frijol from host Jose Angel & Luis in Mexico City

Black Bean Soup

What does “comfort food” mean to you?

Comfort food is about love. We believe in the power of food that has been cooked with patience, attention, tradition and with the beautiful feeling in your heart that you are bringing to the table something that will embrace someone else’s memories and bring them to life in a bite. We like to think about comfort food as a long and warm hug on a plate.

What does “comfort food” look like in your country?

In Mexico comfort food has the shape of a clay pot boiling on the stove and fumes filling the house with that simple but deep scent that announces a thick soup or broth and a bunch of warm tortillas as company. Calditos, sopitas, that’s what we offer to the sad and the tired, that’s what we get when we are feeling sick or had a bad day.

What is your ultimate feel good dish and what’s the story behind it?

Sopita de frijol, a plain and simple black bean soup with some fresh cheese, slices of avocado and tiny tortilla chips to add a nice crunch. This soup was the first dish that Jose learned to cook but what makes it really special (and this is something we love to share with our Eatwith guests) is that Jose’s mom used to cook it for him whenever he had a bad day. Even if Jose’s mom is not with us anymore, her memory is alive every time the pot is boiling and the scent of black beans and hoja santa starts floating around the house. Bringing ther embrace to life with just a soup, that’s true comfort food right?

2. Pork adobo from host Mark in London

Pork Adobo

What is your ultimate “feel good” dish?

Adobo is one of my go-to comfort foods. It’s super easy to make and I think it is a real example of what Filipino cuisine is.

What is the story behind the dish? Did someone special teach you how to make it?

Adobo is the unofficial national dish of the Philippines and every family has their own recipe! It was one of the first dishes my mum taught me. Although I’ve tweaked her recipe here and there over the years, I think in essence and flavor, it’s still the same as hers. 

Learn how to make host Mark’s adobo.

3. Pizza fritta from host Gaetano in Naples

Host Gaetano

What is your ultimate “feel good” dish?

Pizza fritta. For me, it’s a nostalgic dish.  When I have it, it makes me remember time when I was young.

What is the story behind that dish?

Neapolitans in particular have a cult-like devotion to fried fare, especially pizza fritta—fried pizza. After WWII, the city found itself in crisis, and the materials needed for pizza —mozzarella and even wood for the ovens—became a luxury. Fried pizza, a less-expensive alternative nicknamed “pizza of the people,” was filled with less expensive ingredients like pork crackling and ricotta. Housewives sold it on the streets to supplement the family’s income. Times were so hard that customers could even get pizza fritta on credit: called pizza-at-eight, “pizza a otto,” it was eaten on the spot but paid for eight days later. Pizza fritta is a simple food, easy to make at home because unlike classic pizza you don’t need a wood burning stove, just a frying pan.

4. Knedle from host Maria in Warsaw

Plum Dumpling

What does “comfort food” mean to you?

It’s food for hard times.

What does “comfort food” look like in your country?

Dumplings!

What is your ultimate “feel good” dish and what’s the story behind it?

Knedle – a  potato dough dumpling filled with plums. It’s the most famous Polish comfort food. My grannie Helena taught me to make it and it always brings back fond memories from my family home and Christmas dinners.

Learn how to make host Maria’s pierogi

5. Khitchari from host Pratap in London

Host Pratap

What is your ultimate “feel good” dish?

Khitchari – a rice, lentil & vegetable stew

What is the story behind the dish? Did someone special teach you how to make it?

It’s a typical North Indian dish with several variations depending on the the person’s dietary requirements (for example, unspiced for easily upset stomachs, or spiced and with vegetables for an extra nourishing meal). 

Why is this your comfort dish? Does it bring back any memories?

This is my number one comfort food dish  because it invokes memories of my childhood. 

Learn how to make host Pratap’s khitchari here.

6. Stuffed pasta from host Capri in Washington, D.C.

Ravioli

What does “comfort food” mean to you?

Comfort food means tastes and smells that bring me back to my childhood cooking with my Italian grandma.

What is your ultimate “feel good” dish and how do you feel when you eat it?

My ultimate feel good dish involves a stuffed pasta, like a cheese ravioli or tortellini, smothered in a rich tomato sauce fragrant with fresh basil then topped with cheese and baked for good measure. Eating pasta warms my soul and brings me back to a simpler time. My kitchen ends up smelling like my grandma’s house. When she cooked, each dish was made with love.

7. Jollof rice from host Afia in Los Angeles

Jollof Rice

What is your ultimate “feel good” dish?

West African jollof rice.

Why is it your comfort dish? Does it bring back any memories?

Thinking back, some of my fondest memories were being with my mom in the kitchen, singing songs while cooking. One of the dishes I loved watching my mom prepare was jollof rice. She always knew how to play with herbs and spices to really bring out different flavors. This was the first dish I ever made and it’s been one of my favorites.

Learn how to make host Afia’s jollof rice.

8. Homemade tagliatelle from host Monica in Sanremo

Tagliatelle

What does “comfort food” mean to you?

Comfort food always reminds me of my grandma. It’s simple, genuine, healthy and traditional food.

What is your ultimate “feel good” dish?

Homemade tagliatelle makes me feel good as is a dish that makes me feel energized. I add some corn flour to tagliatelle dough in order to give a better consistency and the meat ragù is the perfect addition for a gorgeous meal.

Why is it your comfort dish? Does it bring back any memories?

So many good memories: the smell of the flour milled at the local mill, the feeling of the daugh on my skin, all the family sitting at the table, chatting and laughing…

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