Sweater weather is officially upon us! As the thermometer drops and the leaves start to fall, winter’s arrival means one thing above all else for foodies: the return of comfort food! Let’s take a closer look at this phenomenon, along with highlighting some cold weather favorites perfect for warming up your customers from the inside out this season.
The 411 on Comfort Food
Just how mainstream has the concept of comfort food become? It’s now referenced in the Oxford English Dictionary, which describes it as, “Food that comforts or affords solace; hence, any food (frequently with a high sugar or carbohydrate content) that is associated with childhood or home cooking.”
Which begs the question: Why do we love it so much? According to a Time magazine piece on food and nostalgia, it’s not just because these foods are tasty, but also because the act of eating them leads to feelings of belonging.
This link isn’t merely emotional, as it turns out; it’s also biological. When we eat familiar food in the company of loved ones, “We receive positive reinforcement by obtaining physical sustenance along with great flavors and taste,” according to Spoon University.
And it’s not just about taste, either. As Virginia Commonwealth University researcher Chelsea Reid and coauthor of a study on “Scent-Evoked Nostalgia,” told Time, “Psychological research has demonstrated that smells are powerfully linked to memory, and to autobiographical memory in particular. The olfactory bulb, which is involved in the sense of smell, is linked to areas in the brain associated with memory and emotional experiences.”
Top Five Comfort Foods
While different things count as comfort food for different people, the mere act of preparing a delicious, wholesome meal for others kick-starts the process. Looking to start making some comfort food connections of your own? Try these five hearty, heart-warming recipes.
So good it was included in Bon Appetit’s roundup of the “101 Recipes You Need to Know How to Cook,” this flavor-packed recipe is loaded with goodness. Not convinced of the restorative power of chicken noodle soup? Multiple studies have put it to the test and derived the same conclusions: homemade chicken soup is not only good for the soul, but may even have healing properties. Vulcan’s Kettles are perfect for cooking winter soups, and the embossed gallon/liter markings will never wear off.
This five-star recipe from Ree Drummond, AKA the “Pioneer Woman,” will have guests lining up for seconds. Serve with a side of homemade mashed potatoes, naturally.
Vegetarians don’t have to feel left out of the comfort food action, thanks to recipes like this one from Rachael Ray. A sophisticated spin on the macaroni and cheese of your childhood, this recipe is surprisingly healthy thanks to ample quantities of veggies and whole-wheat pasta.
Nothing demonstrates the beauty in the basic better than this simple yet scrumptious Ina Garten dish. Served with a lemony side salad, it’s pure love on a plate.
5. Apple Crisp
What shortlist of comfort foods would be complete without a decadent dessert? We can think of no better way to end a meal at this time of year than with a crowd-pleasing crisp. Even better? One made with your own freshly picked apples, served straight out of Vulcan’s VC Series Gas Oven, and topped with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream.
In addition to calling on your tried and true favorites this fall, why not try these five picks, too? You won’t just be adding a few new comfort foods to your repertoire, but also plenty of happy memories to go along with them.