I can still recall my excitement when mom would announce, “It’s Pot-Pie night.” It was a comforting signal that when she got home from work, we’d be spending a cozy evening together enjoying one of my favorite frozen dinners, and watching I Love Lucy or The Mary Tyler Moore Show on T.V. These days I make Chicken Pot Pie for my family and friends from scratch. My homemade version tastes a great deal better than the frozen pie version of my childhood, but it always brings me back to the happy moments I shared with mom, eating something I loved, and spending a relaxing evening just being with her.
Like my potpie, comfort foods conjure up sentimental, nostalgic, and soothing feelings from food. Comfort foods reduce our stress, increase our pleasure, and reward our taste buds. They’re typically rich, and easy to chew and digest. Comfort foods by definition make us feel relaxed and happy when we eat them. Chemically, they stimulate the production of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which among other things, is responsible for making us feel loved, and it’s found in our gastrointestinal tract . Comfort foods are often high in carbs, sugar or both. Comfort food experiences differ by region and even gender. American men for example, tend to prefer hearty meals, whereas women are more likely to be comforted by sweet or creamy snacks.
Comfort food recipes, preparations, and experiences vary regionally, but every culture has their own comforting favorites. From the English shepherds pie, to the Greek moussaka, to Hungarian goulash, and Russian stroganoff, there’s something that provides comforting warmth to our insides, and brings a smile to our face the world over. Discover our top 10 favorite All American Comfort Foods, and share them with your friends and family.