Food and emotions: The two can’t be separated. In every corner of the globe, food plays a role in times of sadness, in moments of joy and everything in between. Read on to learn about some typical “emotional” foods from around the world!
5 comfort foods from around the globe
“Comfort foods” describes dishes that can bring up positive feelings just with their aroma. They can connect you to your culture or to happy memories of your childhood. Here is just a sampling of those dishes.
Cha siu bao
Cha siu bao is a flavourful Cantonese bun made with a soft but dense dough and filled with barbeque pork. They can be steamed or baked. “Cha siu” refers to the filling, while “bao” means “bun.”
Man’oushe is a well-loved Lebanese street food. It’s a flatbread that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The herbs and spices on top give this bread an amazing aroma.
This rice and lentil stew is often one of the first things babies eat in many Indian homes, so it’s definitely a comforting dish for a lot of people. Recipes vary and so do side dishes: It can be served with yogurt-based curries, for example, or fish and vegetables.
This slow-cooked pork roast is a traditional Puerto Rican dish. It’s typically served with rice and pigeon peas (“arroz con gandules”) and smashed, fried plantains (“tostones”). The mix of flavours make this a comfort food favourite!
Oden is a comforting one-pot dish on the tables of many Japanese families, especially in the winter months. Ingredients can differ, but a typical oden often includes boiled egg, fishcakes and daikon (Japanese radish).
5 comfort dishes for mourning
Food is an important part of sadness – and healing. To feed the living and honour the dead, here are some traditional mourning dishes.
Meaning “sweetmeat” in Arabic, halva is strongly connected to funerals in Iran. It’s typically made with sesame paste or other nut butters. With its sweet, nutty flavour, halva brings a bit of comfort in times of sadness.
Known as the “meal of condolence,” seudat havra’ah consists mainly of lentils, bread and eggs. Aside from being simple foods that are easily digestible, bread and eggs are foods that symbolise life.
In Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, borsok is an important mourning food. These deep-fried bread balls are made with simple ingredients and served with butter, honey, jam or local-style cream cheese. Some believe that the smoke from the oil pot brings the cook’s prayers to heaven. Borsok is typically eaten every Thursday for a year after someone dies.
This spicy beef soup is a traditional item at South Korean funerals. Some people believe that the soup’s red colour protects the soul of the deceased from evil.
This German cake uses liberal amounts of butter and sugar. Because it’s served at weddings as well as funerals, it’s sometimes called “freud-und-leid-kuchen,” meaning joy and sorrow cake. It’s also known as “beerdigungskuchen,” which is “funeral cake.” There are regional differences, such as the addition of cinnamon to the sugar topping.
5 delicious celebration dishes
It would be nearly impossible to find a celebration that didn’t involve food – it’s such an important part of sharing happiness. Let’s look at a few celebratory dishes!
A common offering at Iceland’s Mid-Winter Festival is hakarl. It’s shark meat that’s buried in gravel, fermented, then hung to dry for four or five months. It’s often served alongside brennivin, a traditional liquor made from potato and caraway seeds.
China’s Mid-Autumn Festival wouldn’t be complete without mooncakes! These little cakes are filled with red bean or lotus seed paste and wrapped in a crust. During the festival, mooncakes are offered to friends or given out at family gatherings.
Eid al-Fitr, “the festival of breaking the fast,” marks the end of Ramadan fasting. In Egypt, this is the time to bring out kahk. These crumbly, lightly spiced, nutty cookies are the perfect way to end a month-long fast!
May 25 is a celebration of Argentina’s May Revolution. A delicious way to commemorate is by eating a confection called pastelitos. This dessert is a deep-fried pastry filled with sweet quince or sweet potatoes and topped with a sugar glaze.
Banh chung and banh day
During the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, two foods are always present: banh chung and banh day. Banh chung is a glutinous rice cake usually containing pork, mung beans and a few other ingredients. Banh day is shaped a bit like a sandwich or a hamburger, and it’s made of a pork roll between steamed rice cakes.
The link between food and feelings is undeniable. Which dishes feed your emotions?