For reasons that should be obvious to all of us, the past year has been a boon for comfort foods. While this blog typically focuses on food trends from around the world, the lockdown on travel has forced me to look a little closer to home for inspiration. Many people, myself included, have found themselves both isolated and with a lot of time on their hands, and quite a few have turned to the kitchen and food for an escape. Whether that means taking up baking or ordering carry out to support your favorite local restaurants, food is a wonderful distraction for the challenges of the times. Here is a look at some comfort food classics and some regional variations to keep on your radar as we navigate the current climate.
Soups and Stews
Is there anything homier than a big pot of soup simmering away on the stove, filling the entire kitchen with the smells of a home-cooked meal? Hearty vegetables, collagen-rich meats, and deeply flavorful broths can warm even the loneliest of cold nights. American favorites like chicken noodle and beef and barley are staples, but some world favorites are ripe for exploration. Coq au vin is a French favorite for the home chef looking for a satisfying challenge, or for those preferring carry-out look for birria on the menu of your favorite Mexican restaurant.
Carbs, carbs, carbs
There is a reason everyone and their mother seemed to be nursing a sourdough starter in 2020: it’s hard to get more comforting than freshly baked bread. As we all looked for hobbies and distractions to break up the monotony of home isolation, many people turned to baking and discovered the wonders of artisanal bread. I expect consumers to show a greater appreciation for different breads going forward, whether that is through curated bread baskets at restaurants or more interest in fresh-baked loaves at the grocery store.
In a similar vein, many people have been experimenting with homemade pasta and elevating the dried version to new heights. There are few feelings more satisfying than working dough and embracing the imperfections of each pasta shape (no Italian Grandmother required). And viral popularity of Baked Feta Pasta had us all running to TikTok to share the fruits of our kitchen, a virtual connection in an isolating time.
Familiar sweets elevated
Desserts are almost comfort food by default, and that familiarity makes them a natural bridge to new trends or adventurous iterations. Few things can satisfy and warm the heart quite like a classic cheesecake, so for a trendy elevated version consider the Basque burnt cheesecake.
Dessert spreads also allow creativity to shine – think charcuterie board but sweet instead of savory. Start with a comfort classic (hot chocolate, s’mores, chocolate fondue) then add all small bowls of dippers or sides with the sky as the limit. These items sit at the crossroads of the comfort eater and the trend seeker, allowing the best of both worlds.