The Definition of Comfort Food

Comfort Food Is Personal.

Fall is a time of reflection. As the weather turns and winter creeps closer, we can look back upon the year and the recent joys of summer to ballast against the colder times ahead. Clothes get heavier, days get shorter, and our yearning for comfort food grows as the holidays loom. We use food to access fond memories of our youth, and never is this more important than the fall season.

Traditionally, fall is a time of harvest. Crops planted earlier in the year would come to fruition and fill our stores for the winter. Though this is no longer the case, we still associate fall with a period of abundance. The bounty is fresh and winter is too far off to be an ominous presence. Today, fall means pumpkin spiced lattes and light jackets, pumpkin bread and football… and pretty much anything pumpkin.

But, it is also a time to reach for your indulgent comfort food of choice. It never feels quite right to hunker down with a bowl of clam chowder in the middle of summer. Some things are best reserved for a certain place and time. So when fall comes around, nothing is off the table. Perhaps your first instinct is to dive into a bowl of mac n’ cheese. Perhaps a giant meat pasty is more your speed. Whatever your instincts tell you, follow them to the guttural bliss that is your favorite comfort food.

The term comfort food dates back decades, and is used to describe a meal that offers more than mere nutritional value. To qualify, a food must elicit a psychological/emotional response from its eater. Namely, a feeling of satisfaction, safety, and warmth. Nothing beats the first spoonful of homemade chicken soup, or the first bite into a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, because in that moment your mind and body enter a place of spiritual familiarity where associations with loving memories of the past combine with chemical responses of the flesh to form the true definition of nourishment.

It is the reason nobody can beat your grandmother’s cooking. It is the reason why family recipes hold a special place in your heart. Comfort food goes well beyond the normal confines of your daily diet and gives you something few other culinary experiences can: peace of mind. We’ve all experienced the feeling of missing a food. Sometimes we call it a craving. It is the empty feeling we get when a favorite meal has been too long absent from our lives. If you reflect on what triggered this nostalgia-sized hole in your stomach, you might find a stressful event, a sad remembrance, or simply a subtle hint from your surroundings — like how some people think of pizza whenever there is a full moon. Life happens. Eat comfort food. Repeat.

The Culture of Comfort Food

Comfort food is often associated with greasy, heavy, fatty, indulgent, creamy, greasy, cheesy, sugary, greasy, and greasy foods. The type of food that makes you want to snuggle up on the couch and watch Netflix in perpetuity. This is probably no accident. Our brains respond to high-caloric, sugary foods by dumping happiness chemicals into our system like there is no tomorrow. Unfortunately, there usually is a tomorrow and it will be met with the consequences of last nights comfort food craving.

Of course, not all comfort food has to come with a price. For some, a crisp Cobb salad with copious amounts of blue cheese is the definition of comfort food. For others, a heaping mound of mashed potatoes and gravy is the only thing that will do. Any food that reminds you of home counts as comfort. Every region, culture, and family has their own style.

To celebrate comfort food and the arrival of fall, we’ve collected some of our favorite comfort foods that also fit the season:

[1] French Fries

neoflam comfort food

[2] Pierogis (a.k.a. dumplings)

neoflam comfort food

[3] Meatloaf

neoflam comfort food

[4] Mac N’ Cheese

neoflam comfort food

[5] Tomato Soup

neoflam comfort food

[6]  Pot Pie

neoflam comfort food

[7] Pumpkin Pie (seen at top of page)

[P.S.] Let us know what your favorite comfort food is!

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