Get Cozy with Comfort Foods from Around the World
Whether we're homesick, heartbroken or just plain old hungry, comfort food warms us right up (without asking us to get out of our sweatpants). Nostalgic flavors can be as simple as mac and cheese or banana pancakes, but every culture embraces its own recipe for comfort. Here's just a taste.
French cuisine has its rich dishes—looking at you, croque-monsieur—and in Paris's packed-like-sardines streets, the ultimate comfort is cassoulet. While the bones of its recipe change, the stick-to-your-ribs, slow-cooked stew brings the southwest of France into the heart of the city by way of hearty white beans, duck confit and garlic sausage.
The simple snack of french fries, cheese curds and essential gravy may be Quebec's claim to fame, but all of Canada is on board the poutine train—you'll find it across the country, from Montreal to Vancouver.
The UK's brilliant contributions to the comfort food canon are nothing new. In fact, one is often made with leftovers: shepherd's pie. Mince meat (traditionally lamb; it's called cottage pie when made with beef), buttered peas and carrots get crowned with a layer of mashed potatoes.
In the former British colony, one beloved dish is sure to catch your attention: fish head curry, eyes and all. It's a mash-up of Indian and Chinese ingredients that Singapore's diverse communities have embraced and made their own.
In the Netherlands, stamppot brings comfort on chilly nights. The simple staple dish is usually a mash of boiled potatoes and mixed vegetables (from kale to carrots) topped with sausages—and sometimes gravy, because why not?
Simplement .... La Feijoada (plat Traditionnel bresilien). #brazilianfood @mondedubresil #restaurant #afro #bresilien #feijoada #delicousfood #paris #boulognebillancourt # #
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In Brazil's glitziest city, people hanker for feijoada, a hardly fancy stew made of pork, rice, beans, greens, orange slices and farofa (crumbly, toasted cassava flour). Once reserved for weekend projects, it's now an anyday staple (and, breaking with tradition, it's a crowd-pleaser on nachos).
The city, being the cultural melting pot that it is, finds comfort in many foods. But matzo ball soup, the Passover-approved chicken-sans-noodle soup, is a staple at famed delis that keep kosher for all New Yorkers keen to go beyond the bagel.
Japan's best comfort foods tend to be highly slurpable. In Tokyo, alongside ramen and udon, winter brings oden to the table. Daikon, tofu and fish cakes simmer in pots of soy broth—popular even in convenience stores.
All the #momos and all the #dumplings I have ever tasted in my life don't hold a candle to this humble #pierogies of #poland and my hunt for the best #pierogi in #warsaw landed me eventually here #polish #cuisine #comfortfood #soyummy #foodgasm . . . #latergram #wanderlust #europe #travel #life #photography #igtravel #travelgram #traveller #igers
It always comes back to the potato. In Poland, cozy means a pocket of dough full of mashed potatoes, onions and cheese in the dumplings called pierogi. There's no short supply throughout the city, but everyone's grandmother surely makes them best.
Its translation, "milk food," reads a bit prosaic. But South Africa's melkkos is childhood nostalgia in its purest, creamiest form. A traditional Afrikaans dish, it's a porridge-like meal made of milk, cinnamon and lumps of flour cut with butter—simple, rich and certainly sweet.
In Switzerland, most roads lead to cheese—see raclette in Valais and bubbling pots of fondue as proof. But in Zurich, a sauce of diced veal and mushrooms in cream and white wine called Zürcher Geschnetzelte is the proper wintertime warmer.
While its ingredients vary across India, khichdi's essential combination of rice, lentils and turmeric is often one of the first solid foods given to children. There's even a Guinness World Record to prove its importance.
Keith Flanagan is a Brooklyn-based food and travel writer—he's never met a pastry he didn't eat. Follow his every meal on Instagram at @keithflanny.
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