Edible Vancouver Island January/February 2024

The act of indulging in comfort foods is a form of self-care, a momentary escape from the pressures of our fast-paced lives.

FAT, CARBOHYDRATES AND REGIONAL DELICACIES In fact, regardless of personal preferences, and whether you lean toward savoury or sweet when it comes to comfort foods, fat is nearly always present. As the food industry and any cook knows, it makes food taste better. And increased fat content in our food also keeps us full longer and can sustain us during times of food scarcity. It’s a nod back to evolutionary survival mechanisms and also seems timely with food prices increasing and supply issues becoming more frequent. Could it be that our subconscious instincts for self-preservation are part of what drives us to crave calorie-dense, higher-fat foods? The comfort food formula seems to be made of carbohydrates, fat and an intangible collection of positive associations–sometimes nostalgic, often regional, and highly personalized. Each culture has its own repertoire of comforting dishes, passed down through generations, that warm the heart and soothe the soul. For example, in Italy, a bowl of fresh pasta topped with a slowly simmered sauce and fresh Parmigiano Reggiano offers a satisfying carb boost along with a delicious combination of garden-fresh flavours. In India, fragrant bowls of dal, a rich lentil stew made with coconut milk and a medley of spices, are known to warm both body and spirit. And the allure of a fresh-from-the-oven warm and buttery Parisian croissant on a chilly morning is practically irresistible.

THE BENEFITS OF COMFORT FOODS The act of indulging in comfort foods is a form of self-care, a momentary escape from the pressures of our fast-paced lives. It’s a time to slow down, savour every bite and let the flavours and aromas connect us to cherished memories of family gatherings, holiday celebrations or any special moments that we recall as safe and comforting. More often than not, comfort foods are nourishing and provide us with needed sustenance. Besides, food isn’t just about nutrition– the satisfaction derived from indulging in comfort foods can have a positive impact on our overall well-being. Feeling emotionally content and fulfilled through our meals can reduce stress and anxiety, promoting a healthier mental state. So let’s enjoy the hedonistic, multi-faceted delights of comfort foods. Whether your go-to is sweet, savoury, crunchy, smooth, hot and spicy or cold and creamy, the process of anticipating, preparing and enjoying our favourite foods is a simple and satisfying path to happiness that’s accessible to us all. Liisa Salo is an editor, content creator and marketer based in Victoria who indulges in a dose of comfort food every day, usually in the form of dark chocolate or a bowl of crunchy granola. markmywordsediting.ca

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