Bad news, friends and foodies. A recent study at the University of Minnesota showed there’s no such thing as comfort food! Tell me it’s not so. To deal with the stress of that revelation, I immediately reached for a slice of leftover meatloaf.
All these years, we’ve been trying to soothe ourselves with mashed potatoes, apple pie, and chocolate when things go wrong. Now scientists tell us that it’s time, not sugar and carbs, that heals our wounds and brightens our moods.
So what is comfort food? According to Amber Ambrose of Zagat, it’s food that warms your heart, triggers a food memory, and fills you so full there’s no choice but to nap afterwards. It’s classic fare that embodies creamy, chewy, warm and gooey ingredients, says Martha Stewart. Hmm…sounds like chocolate chip cookie dough.
A readers’ poll at Homecooking.com found the favorite comfort foods to be, in order of preference: peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pot roast, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and tuna casserole. Thrillist.com did a list of state preferences in comfort food. Missouri’s was–are you ready St. Louis? (insert drumroll): Toasted Ravioli.
Your favorite might not be toasted ravioli, but we all have a dish or two we want when we’re sick, tired, stressed, or far from home; a warm food blanket for the tummy. We yearn for a hearty soup, warm casserole, something salty, sweet, cheesy or greasy. My comfort food is meatloaf and homemade bread.
Even so, I feel a kinship with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of “The Splendid Table.” She says, “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that delights me more than a bowl of pasta and tomato sauce. When I want to reach out with all my love to my husband, a dish of pasta and tomatoes is almost always in my hands. When I am worn out and the world isn’t such a nice place to be in, I make tomato sauce and pasta. When time is short, but dear friends must be fed with joy and not pressure, I make pasta with tomato sauce.”