Comfort Foods
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Banana Pancakes

So many of our memories are forever entangled with the aromas and tastes of special dishes and special meals. We call them comfort foods but we all know that it’s not the food itself that comforts, but rather the memories that are triggered when the kitchen fills with the scent of baking bread, simmering spaghetti sauce, bubbling casseroles, fried chicken, sizzling bacon, or pancakes on the griddle.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

We each have different comfort foods but they all have one thing in common. Comfort foods trigger memories of times when we felt safe and warm, when loved ones were near, when laughter came easily. These are the foods we turn to when the world feels just a bit uncertain, when we need reassurance that yes, tomorrow will be a better day.

Biscuits and Gravy

Sometimes it’s a huge meal we crave, sometimes all it takes is a side of gravy. And sometimes, all of life’s worries can be pushed aside with something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

What are your comfort foods? Do you have a favorite family food memory?

Barbara from A Writer Afoot has shared some of her memories in a beautiful post titled Of Biscuits and Sunday Mornings. She has invited us to visit her site and share some of our own family memories that revolve around food. I’ll have to think about what to share, but I plan on writing something soon. Join me?

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35 Comments
  1. Katiez

    Very bizarre, but the first one that came ot mind was my mother’s liver, bacon and onions! I should be worried I think. All of your photos look very comforting…
    Must give this some thought!

    7:32 pm  Sep 20th, 2007
  2. Cara

    Mmmmm! My Grandmas rolls that she would make everytime she visited. I still make them today.

    10:10 pm  Sep 20th, 2007
  3. amy

    Nana’s cheesy cauliflower dish and her twice baked potatoes are some of my favorite comfort foods, and bring back lots of good memories of coming “into town” with Grandpa from the ranch, and staying with them for a week. Everytime she makes those dishes, it really floods me with those memories! you know! :)

    1:32 am  Sep 21st, 2007
  4. Lisa (Homesick Texan)

    I think you captured it for me with your photo of pickles and a grilled cheese sandwich–the ultimate comfort plate! My other favorite comfort foods of choice are refried beans wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla, my grandpa’s pancakes, my grandma’s chocolate pie and my mom’s garlic mashed potatoes.

    1:53 am  Sep 21st, 2007
  5. Kalyn

    Now I’m really craving biscuits and gravy! Yum.

    12:14 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  6. Mallow

    I was just mentioning to somebody the cheese souffles my mom used to make for me after school!

    12:46 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  7. Curt

    I don’t know if I can post links, but there’s an interesting article on gender differences in comfort foods here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-07/uoia-gpi070203.php

    I think comfort foods stem mostly from childhood; most have so far commented on their mother or grandmother making something, and memories are mentioned in the post. Comfort foods take us back to a safe place as a child, when we felt cared for.

    For me, it’s chicken and homemade egg noodles on top of mashed potatoes. Yeah, very starchy, but the only way to eat chicken & noodles! I wrote about some more of mine a while ago on my blog, but I also think holidays are wrapped in comfort foods; that’s why we make the same things year after year for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

    1:42 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  8. Peter

    Good ole’ Mac n’ Cheese, meatloaf, Beef Barley soup, roast chicken, avgolemeno soup, spanokopita….lots!

    2:40 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  9. Jason

    Baked Ziti. Only my mother, sister, and cousin, and aunt can make it. If anybody else makes tries, its not worth eating.

    4:56 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  10. Augustina

    peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mac and cheese, grilled cheese sands w/tomato soup, chocolate chip cookies and milk, tuna salad and egg sandwiches, fried eggs over rice…those are just a few of my comfort foods. btw, wonderful photos (espec. the grilled cheese shot!).

    6:38 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  11. Maria

    My dad’s cinnamon rolls, ice cream, fresh cookies from the oven…and really any baked good pulled right out of the oven is good:)

    7:19 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  12. swirlingnotions

    Love the shot of grilled cheese . . . definitely a comfort food. Although, honestly, it’s the ketchup that I dip it in that gives me the most comfort (I’m a ketchup addict). Hmmm . . . good topic to ponder as autumn sets in. I’ll get back with more thoughts . . .

    10:39 pm  Sep 21st, 2007
  13. Jason

    Makes tries? How about “tries to make it?”

    1:08 am  Sep 22nd, 2007
  14. Leslie

    My very favorite comfort food was Campbell’s Scotch Broth soup! I absolutely loved that soup and it always comforted my soul. Unfortunately, they no longer make it the same as they used to, but the MEMORY lingers on. Yum!

    2:13 am  Sep 22nd, 2007
  15. Terry B

    A great post and interesting question, Nicole. In your amazing previous post on biscuits, I named biscuits and gravy as a breakfast comfort food. Another odd one for me used to be Nabisco Ginger Snaps dipped in cold milk almost to the point of disintegration. In fact, at least one would lose its structural integrity, much of it plopping back into the glass, when I ate them. Unfortunately, as with Leslie’s Campbell’s Scotch Broth Soup, the recipe seems to have changed. They still taste pretty much the same, but they don’t soak up milk in that same satisfyingly dangerous way.

    4:32 am  Sep 22nd, 2007
  16. Ruby

    Great post!
    The grilled cheese photo takes my memory back to our younger years and our late night visits to Denny’s or IHOP at 2am. You ordered a grilled cheese and dipped it in ketchup.
    The banana pancakes remind me of Central Camp and waking up to the aroma of your Dad making them for us.
    Going even further back and having come from a Mexican family, my fondest comfort foods are the sound of a wooden roller pin pounding away while smelling the lovely aroma of fresh tortillas bubbling on the stove. Also the faint scent of pinto beans brewing on the stove (we had beans with every meal, breakfast lunch and dinner!)
    Fun post!

    6:24 am  Sep 22nd, 2007
  17. Nicole

    Thanks for sharing, everyone! It’s so much fun to learn what the words “comfort food” mean to each of you! For me it’s homemade mac n’ cheese, tuna noodle casserole, homemade cinnamon swirl bread, potato leek soup, Thanksgiving food (turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, gravy, stuffing, jellied cranberry sauce, and a dinner roll), grilled cheese sandwiches (white bread, american cheese) dipped in ketchup, my grandmother’s tamale pie. The list could go on but those are the main ones :-)

    Katiez: Well like I said, it’s the memories that often make the food comforting :-) I’m not a liver eater but it reminds me of going out to eat at a particular restaurant with my mom and grandmother when I was a kid. My granda would always order liver and I must have tasted it once or twice. And even though I haven’t eaten it since I was a kid, I still remember exactly what it tastes like and how much fun those dinners were because my sister and I would get to eat the fruit cocktail that came with the dinners my mom and grandmother ordered (doesn’t take much to make a kid happy) :-)

    Curt: Thanks for the article link, I’ll check it out!

    Lia: I actually have another photo of the grilled cheese with ketchup on the side because that’s the only way I eat them! But I decided that most people would think it was a little strange and I chose to publish the one with just the pickles ;-) The ketchup shot is probably somewhere in my flickr photos though.

    Terry: Have you tried Newman’s Own Ginger-O’s? I don’t know how good they are for dipping in milk but I love them!

    Ruby: For me, the grilled cheese and ketchup thing goes way way back to when I was a kid and going out to eat at The Fruit Basket in Madera. I would always order the “Go-Getters Grub” off the kids menu which was a grilled cheese with fries. I would dip both the sandwich and the fries in ketchup and I just never grew out of it :-) I wish I had someone to make me fresh tortillas and beans every morning!! Mmmmmmmm…

    3:23 pm  Sep 22nd, 2007
  18. brilynn

    The smell of bread baking always gets me, I think that’s the biggest one, warm bread out of the oven, slathered with butter.

    4:54 pm  Sep 22nd, 2007
  19. Misslionheart

    My Mums chicken soup pops straight into my head when I think of comfort food!

    8:35 pm  Sep 22nd, 2007
  20. Farmgirl Susan

    You’re killing me with the biscuits and gravy! Seriously, I’m about to stab a fork into my monitor. ;)

    3:37 pm  Sep 23rd, 2007
  21. Susan Smillie

    Macaroni cheese. No contest. Most of my comfort foods seem to involve cheese – toasted cheese sandwich, simple pasta with cheese and butter, grilled halloumi … problem is, I’m trying to stick to being non-dairy.

    5:25 pm  Sep 23rd, 2007
  22. Susan

    Oooh, comfort food. My favorites are my mother’s baked split pea soup, egg custard and meat loaf. When I would come home from boarding school she would have all three waiting for me. And later on, when I visited, they would all be on the menu at some time. It has turned cold here in Northern California so the thought of comfort food is, well, comforting!

    10:49 pm  Sep 23rd, 2007
  23. butters

    Yum! I think you named most of my favorites. Definitely mashed potatoes and spaghetti.

    11:59 pm  Sep 23rd, 2007
  24. S. from The Student Stomach

    My comfort food is my mother’s Thanksgiving Oyster Stuffing. Or her Peanut Butter Tandy Cakes. Or just a bar of really really really super uber good dark chocolate. If anybody has chocolate recommendations…let me have em! : )

    1:18 am  Sep 24th, 2007
  25. Nicole

    Reading about all these different foods is making me hungry!! Keep them coming!

    Susan: I’m intrigued by the baked split pea soup…do you have your mother’s recipe?

    9:24 am  Sep 24th, 2007
  26. deb meyers

    My grandmother’s macaroni and cheese…very milky, almost like soup. With sharp cheddar crust and liberal amounts of black pepper. She’s gone now and there’s not a one of us in the family who can come close to re-creating that dish, even if we watched her do it a million times.

    9:54 pm  Sep 24th, 2007
  27. Susan

    Nicole: No, I don’t have a recipe for baked split pea soup. My mother probably got it from her mother who got it from her mother . . . etc. What I remember is she put all this stuff in a big pot ~ dried peas, ham hock, onions, garlic, s & p, herbs, water, stuck it in the oven and several hours later it was soup. Here’s a research project for you!

    12:54 am  Sep 25th, 2007
  28. Nicole

    Deb: interesting how we all have such different tastes! Homemade mac and cheese is one of my favorites, but I prefer mine pretty dry :-) I bet if you keep experimenting, you might eventually come close to your grandmother’s dish. Sounds like the effort and patience it would take would be worth it!

    Susan: I think I’ll take that challenge! I love split pea soup so much and although I usually do mine on the stovetop, I would love to figure out how to make a baked version :-)

    6:28 am  Sep 25th, 2007
  29. Corinne

    Tamale pie, lemon cake and my mom’s beef stew! yum! Oh an Potato Leek Soup.

    7:26 pm  Sep 25th, 2007
  30. Dutchnic

    My mother’s waffles. Definitely, without a doubt!

    4:39 pm  Sep 27th, 2007
  31. Jessica

    Ha ha all of my dad’s cooking is a comfort to me. He always makes his food from the heart. Its rarely healthy, but I think society now takes the fun out of eating by focusing on the nutritional value of everything :(. BBQ Ribs, Fried Chicken, his breakfast’s and pancakes are some of my fave. When all of us kids get together an easy way to feed us all is biscuits and gravy. yay :)

    11:13 pm  Nov 26th, 2007
  32. Anne Holmes

    Fantastic post!

    I think some of my favorite comfort foods are really gooey grilled cheese sandwiches — though the Croque Monsieurs I used to get when I lived in France might actually beat out the grilled cheese my mother used to make…

    My grandfather’s both made foods I consider comfort foods: My Dad’s father made pancakes with real Maple syrup when we’d all be up at the family cottage together. Those were the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten…

    And my Mother’s father used to make popovers once or twice a year on special occasions, like Christmas Eve. Those popovers were outstanding and I keep trying to reproduce the feeling they brought me, every time I make popovers… Of course, I don’t serve my popovers with Christmas tree-shaped ice cream slices, the way my grandparents did for Christmas Eve — but I haven’t forgotten them, either!

    5:03 pm  Oct 26th, 2008
  33. LexieMariah

    I must say my favourite comfort foods have to be: burritos, my mum’s homemade pizza, my grandmas famous rolls, sweet honey/pineapple ham, cooked brocoli and cheese, and the best of all…Carmel Apples straightly dipped (or just cooked apples).

    The best relation ships are developed in the kitchen I must say…:]

    12:23 pm  Jun 13th, 2009
  34. Dbratkowski

    Definitely the chicken mole my mom makes! She makes it with peanut butter instead of chocolate and it is creamy and warm with shreds of chicken all on top of Spanish rice. Perfect for a really cold day. I’m daydreaming about it right now….

    9:59 am  Nov 3rd, 2010
  35. qball

    bacon

    2:12 pm  Feb 4th, 2014
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