Chances are, if you have stumbled upon this lil old website of mine that quite possibly you're a fan of food. First of all, congratulations you've come to the right place. We even welcome vegans here at the Meat Shack just as long as you're a fan of food.
FOOD + FAMILY = HAPPINESS
It is my humble opinion that for foodies, food is so much more than sustenance. Food represents family, memory, sensation, emotion and for many of us, comfort.
The term comfort food has actually been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story stating, "Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called 'comfort food'—food associated with the security of childhood, like mother's poached egg or famous chicken soup."
There are many studies which have been undertaken to understand the psychological reasonings for why we turn to food for comfort as we do. It's estimated that reaching for the snack tin when needing a little pick me up may trigger the reward system in the brain, giving us a temporary brain high as all that sugar and fat starts running through the body and we're in our party pants whilst chewing happily on Mars Bars.
One study even demonstrated that men prefer more "hearty" related comfort foods such as steaks, casseroles, and soups while women preferred comfort foods that were more "snacky" like chocolate and ice cream. In the article, "The Myth of Comfort Food" it expands this theory to say that men tend to choose these types of savory comfort foods because they remind them of being "pampered" or spoiled, while women choose snacks because they are associated with low amounts of work and less "cleanup."
Now I appreciate that I am risk of being bitch slapped, so before I get accused of being sexist on either side I appreciate there are some very house proud men out there as well as a lot of women who love a good steak. I'm just giving you the science y'all and I'm not 100% convinced as I do myself love a bag of Malteasers to take me to my happy place...
Chandler didn't get the memo about men and women comfort foods
It seems as though it's not just the act of eating that brings us comfort. It was documented as far back as the 1st Century by Roman nobleman, Apicus who said "we eat first with our eyes". Well, billions of Instagram fans can't be wrong. Food Porn is making a major industry as budding chefs across the world post endless pictures of oozing cheese, butter melting in a pan and chocolate being drizzled in slow mo. I myself get great enjoyment not only by watching endless videos of food but also by sharing my own creations with the world. And let's not even start on the wonder and amazement that we all get from watching the Rock indulge in a cheat day.
Some scientists believe that images of food fire up the brain wanting the real thing. A 2012 study, for example, found that just looking at pictures of food may be enough to cause a spike in the hormone, ghrelin, the hormone that causes hunger .
According to a report from The Atlantic, Gabriella Petrick, a professor of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University, said “When we eat things, different parts of our brain light up in different ways. It’s not just taste—we evoke sight, we evoke hearing, we evoke lots of different [things] as our brain tries to construct what our food is.
Even the smell of certain foods can turn us into time travellers as we are transported back to memories of childhood and eating family favourites with loved ones. The act of smell is so instantaneous and unexpected that it can punch us in the face at times before we've even realised what's happening.
The sensations and emotions of eating can transport us back to memories of family, places and people who we have met and shared in the enjoyment of food. Many of my favourite recipes today come straight from my Nanny Ivy's kitchen embroiled in family history and my own personal life story. And I'm always looking to build new stories right from my back garden sharing my passion of food with family and friends.
And as if I hadn't already given you enough science on the comfort of food, let me just leave you with this last little ditty. Research has found that food is top of the charts for making us feel the happiness factor. Of the 2,000 who took part in a survey by Giraffe, 76% of peeps fessed up that food brought more enjoyment than anything else ... the survey including both TV and exercise. Even more shockingly, one in five of the respondents said a favourite meal was even better than sex!
I hope you've had a happy read and to get your ghrelin pumping, here's a few little comforting recipes complete with food pornography for you to try.