It may not be the most beautiful culinary display or a recipe that was carefully curated by a Michelin Star chef, but this meal touches your heart.

From gathering the ingredients, hearing the garlic sizzle when it hits the hot oil and the aroma fill throughout your home, to consuming every bite of warmth bringing back bittersweet memories– this is a feeling that cannot be replicated by any chef in the world.

Comfort food can be defined differently based on the individual, but commonalities in most of our experiences include reminding us of home, tenderness, and love.

Stuffed Shells by Erin Fridely

These strong feelings of comfort and nostalgia brought by these foods are not a mystery.

In an article called “Why Comfort Food Comforts” in The Atlantic , author Cari Romm references a psychological study published by the journal Appetite conducted by Gabriel and her colleagues at SUNY Buffalo and the University of South. They believe that what connects our feelings triggered by comfort foods to the associations it calls to mind.

I tend to think of it in terms of classical conditioning,” Gabriel said.

If you’re a small child and you get fed certain foods by your primary caregivers, then those foods begin to be associated with the feeling of being taken care of. And then when you get older, the food itself is enough to trigger that sense of belonging. But if, when you’re a child, those connections are more anxiety-ridden … then when you’re older and you eat those foods, you may feel less happy,” she exclaims.

Mom’s Pasta by Erin Fridely

According to Gabriel, as adults in preparing these foods for ourselves and loved ones further strength those connections to feelings of be apart of a nurturing support system.

Whether there is psychological or scientific reasoning behind these dishes evoking such strong emotions, we can all agree that they make our soul feel good.

If you are interested in reading more about comfort food and its positive impacts, check out these articles!

https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/foodfocus/sc-comfort-food-1230-20161227-story.html

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/benefits-of-cooking-for-others_n_5967858ae4b0a0c6f1e67a15

https://makeeverybodyhappy.org/happiness-and-food

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