From sweet porridge to savory soups, these staple dishes will warm you right up
Whether we’re homesick, heartbroken or just plain old hungry, comfort food warms us right up (without asking us to get out of our sweatpants). Nostalgic flavors can be as simple as mac and cheese or banana pancakes, but every culture embraces its own recipe for comfort. Here’s just a taste.
French cuisine has its rich dishes—looking at you, croque-monsieur—and in Paris’s packed-like-sardines streets, the ultimate comfort is cassoulet. While the bones of its recipe change, the stick-to-your-ribs, slow-cooked stew brings the southwest of France into the heart of the city by way of hearty white beans, duck confit and garlic sausage.
The UK’s brilliant contributions to the comfort food canon are nothing new. In fact, one is often made with leftovers: shepherd’s pie. Mince meat (traditionally lamb; it’s called cottage pie when made with beef), buttered peas and carrots get crowned with a layer of mashed potatoes.
In the Netherlands, stamppot brings comfort on chilly nights. The simple staple dish is usually a mash of boiled potatoes and mixed vegetables (from kale to carrots) topped with sausages—and sometimes gravy, because why not?
The city, being the cultural melting pot that it is, finds comfort in many foods. But matzo ball soup, the Passover-approved chicken-sans-noodle soup, is a staple at famed delis that keep kosher for all New Yorkers keen to go beyond the bagel.
In Switzerland, most roads lead to cheese—see raclette in Valais and bubbling pots of fondue as proof. But in Zurich, a sauce of diced veal and mushrooms in cream and white wine called Zürcher Geschnetzelte is the proper wintertime warmer.