So many people speak of food that makes you happy, lifts the spirits, and blows negative thoughts away. But just how can a simple dish alleviate pain and restore harmony? What is the secret behind these formulas for happiness and what lies beneath the concept of comfort food?
Origins and a dash of history
The Oxford English Dictionary claims that the term ‘comfort food’ was first used in 1977, when a Washington Post article used it to describe a traditional South American dish: prawns with corn porridge. Historian Lynne Oliver, on the other hand, is sure that the expression was used even before, and more specifically in 1965, also in the United States.
Regardless of the specific date and occasion on which the expression was coined, the word has – ever since its origins – a quite subjective value, and always related to an individual’s spiritual sphere. Comfort food is linked to happy or nostalgic memories: there is only a handful of other things able to project us in the lives of others, through private accounts related to childhood or our loved ones. This is why the choice of food varies completely from person to person, region to region, country to country. Whichever our personal history is, our food of happiness conceals an intimate selection, based upon many different, and at times surprising, motivations and reasonings.
10 comfort foods from around the world
France: onion soup
Great Britain: fish & chips