8 Comfort Foods Around The World

Lesson Overview

‘Comfort food’ – Have you heard of this English phrase? In this video, I’ll take you around the world to find out the favourite and best comfort foods eaten by mmmEnglish students!

We’ll travel from India and Vietnam to Spain, Mexico, and more! Eight beautiful countries, and eight delicious dishes to sample! You’ll learn the ingredients and how each dish is made, plus some excellent adjectives to describe these foods!

Are you ready for a food safari?


Video Transcript
Section 1

So good…

Hey! I’m Emma from mmmEnglish and today we’re going to be talking about eight of the best comfort foods from around the world.

One moment please. Yum! So good. That was delicious.

A homemade meat pie is one of my favourite foods, it’s warm, it’s comforting, it’s delicious. So today we’re going to find out why is it called comfort food? And is comfort food different around the world? And which words can we use to describe these delicious foods?

Let’s find out!

So how does the word comfort even relate to food? Essentially, to comfort, the verb means to make someone feel better, doesn’t it? So think about a time when you were feeling a little under the weather or a little worried or anxious. Perhaps when you’ve moved far from home and you miss your family and your friends, then it’s food that can sometimes make you feel better. Food reminds you of home or reminds you of a time when your mum or a family member was taking care of you.

And it’s that feeling that comfort and being looked after, that makes comfort food so appealing.

Not to mention that they are usually rich in flavour and delicious and sweet and yummy.

Comfort foods are also foods that take you back to the good old days. They bring up happy, safe memories and feelings.

So let’s see, which sentence do you think best describes comfort food?

  • Pineapple on a pizza is delicious. Everyone should try it.
  • I love eating pineapple on pizza – it reminds me of my university days.
  • I’ve never had pineapple on pizza. And I never will.

The answer is B.

I love eating pineapple on pizza – it reminds me of my university days.

But why? Why is that a good example of comfort food? Well because it brings up good, happy memories of university. It’s nostalgic.

So I’ve given you an example of what comfort food means to me. The meat pie that I was eating at the start of the class. Very common in Australia and it’s also something that reminds me of going to the football.

Sitting during winter in the cold watching my football team play with a meat pie and sauce in hand. That is something that is very nostalgic for me.

But I’m curious to find out, what does comfort food mean to you? What is the dish that you find most comforting to eat? Tell me down in the comments below.

I actually asked my Youtube community this question a few weeks ago when I was thinking about this lesson and I got so many delicious responses.

So I’ve pulled out the eight best comfort foods from around the mmmEnglish world. Now you may agree or disagree with some of the suggestions that we’ve got here, let me know down in the comments, let me know if I’ve missed something.

Now before we pack our bags and we head off on our food safari, I’ve got a little challenge for you. In this video, I’ve used eight different sentences to describe each dish. One for each dish. I want you to take note of these sentences and see if you can find them all in the lesson, they’re all using amazing adjectives to describe each dish.

Are you ready? We’re about to take off to Malaysia!

1. Congee

This is congee. It’s a type of savoury porridge. Can you pronounce it? Congee.

Now I know for sure that my Malaysian students will say: Emma! What about nasi lemak? What about laksa?

There are so many delicious comfort foods in Malaysia. I used to live there so believe me, I know. But we’d be here all day if I kept going! We’ve got lots of stops to make.

Congee is actually a dish that is eaten throughout many countries in Asia and so you’ll find it in lots of different places.

So let me describe congee. The plain white rice is boiled with lots of water so it becomes thick and gooey. You can add whatever you want to it, chicken, pork, fish some herbs, ginger, fried onions and for extra seasoning you could add things like sesame oil or soy sauce, pepper. So with all of the herbs and seasonings it’s a really fresh, earthy taste. It’s delicious.

Now unlike most comfort foods, congee is actually really healthy. It’s often fed to kids when they’re feeling ill or when it’s really cold.

Now enjoy it quickly because we’re off to our next stop, Vietnam!

Gosh, there are so many of my favourite dishes from this country but one of my favourites is bún thịt nướng.

2. Bún thịt nướng

My Vietnamese students, am I saying that correctly? I’m a little bit rusty, it’s been a while since I lived in Ho Chi Minh City. Let me know down in the comments. Bún thịt nướng has everything that you could ever wish for in a dish

The fresh rice vermicelli noodles, the salty grilled pork the fresh herbs, basil and mint, the crisp lettuce, it’s all dressed in nuoc mam, fish sauce with chopped up peanuts and pickled carrots and sometimes even spring rolls on top so when it all comes together it has this crunchy, caramelised texture.

What I would not give to be back in Ho Chi Minh City eating bún thịt nướng. I would love to.

So I wonder what do my Vietnamese students think, do they agree?

Or maybe you’d say phở or bánh xèo? Something else, maybe that’s your favourite comfort food?

But right now we’ve gotta pack for a longer journey because our next stop is a little further away. We’re going to India!

Now we all know that India is famous for its delicious curries but which one stands out? Which one is the dish that brings families together on rainy days and makes everyone happy? Well if you were to ask me, I’d say dal makhani.

Doesn’t that look good?

But when I asked you a few weeks ago, so many of you, said biryani, so the community has spoken, biryani it is!

3. Biryani

But luckily, I’m also a big fan of biryani. This is chicken biryani. Now biryani is quite a difficult dish to make. It uses a complex range of spices and specific cuts of meat. It’s best to use chicken legs and thighs and parts of the chicken with the bone in it because the breast can end up being quite dry.

So the spices and the meat are all layered with parboiled rice and to make sure that the grains of rice don’t stick together, they stay separated, I’ve been told that you’ve gotta use the highest quality basmati rice.

Then you add some yoghurt, some ghee spices, coriander, ginger, garlic, lemon juice and honestly, lots of other things. And years and years of perfecting the art, that’s when you get the perfect biryani.

Biryani has deliciously complex flavours combined with tender meat. And when it’s served warm, it’s the ultimate comfort food. and people all through South Asia love this dish, it’s not just India, also Pakistan, Bangladesh.

Gosh, so many different varieties.

Alright we are flying to a whole new continent now, our next country is way over in Europe or until recently it was, now it’s just past Europe.

Oh hello. Hello, England.

There are lots of comfort foods in England to be sure and many of which are really common in Australia too because Australia, where I’m from, was colonised by the British and a lot of our ancestors have come from the UK so we share a lot of meals, humour language in common.

4. Roast dinner

Today I’m highlighting the humble roast dinner. Now on Sundays most of the pubs and restaurants throughout England and people in their homes, they serve a Sunday roast.

So it starts with beef or chicken or pork, you add potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, some roasted vegetables like carrots and brussel sprouts, cauliflower cheese.

And you cannot forget the gravy, absolutely not, that’s important as are the Yorkshire puddings which are very common in the UK not so much here in Australia but I do love a good Yorkshire pudding myself. So on the plate, you can see there’s lots of different flavours and textures in a roast dinner but the dish as a whole is soft and warm and salty, very comforting.

Now before we leave on our next destination I want to remind you to keep looking out for those sentences that describe each of the dishes. We’ll go through them together at the end of this video.

Alright, it’s time to head off again, are you ready for Italy?

Now there are so many comfort foods from Italy. You’re expecting pizza or ravioli or gnocchi. Italians, please share in the comments what is an Italian’s ultimate comfort food? This one is for all of the sweet tooths out there, the dessert lovers. And it is one of my all-time favourites, it’s tiramisu.

5. Tiramisu

Now tiramisu is made with ladyfingers or savoiardi, I think in Italian, is that right?

Now they’re not literally ladies’ fingers, no. These are crisp biscuity bites of dry sponge cake.

So we’ve got these ladyfingers and they’re soaked in coffee and a strong sweet liqueur. So it’s then layered with creamy mascarpone cheese and dusted with cocoa. And the combination of coffee, liqueur, cocoa, it creates this decadent, honeyed flavour. It’s delicious.

This is the perfect way to end any feast in Italy or you can eat it for breakfast or for lunch or for dinner or for a snack or a midnight snack.

What? I would. I’m literally getting hungry just talking about this. How about you? How are you going?

We’ve got a few more stops on our food safari and one more country in Europe before we head off to the Americas. Our last country in Europe is España! Spain. The Spanish potato and onion tortilla.

6. Tortilla de patatas

Tortilla de patatas is a simple dish. It just contains eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil but I think if I had to choose only one thing that I could eat for the rest of my life, it would be this.

And when it’s done well, it is so good. The potatoes and the onions and the olive oil, they’re all added

to a skillet pan and they’re cooked until they’re soft and then the eggs are beaten in a bowl and added into the pan and it all kind of cooks together, it creates this thick, delicious, warm, sort of pie.

The tricky part is being able to turn it over. It’s not really something that I’m very good at.

But this dish can be eaten for lunch, for breakfast, for dinner, for tapas as a snack unlike when I was talking about tiramisu, this one actually can. It’s so versatile.

Okay, we’re leaving Europe now to go to Mexico. Now our comfort food here is a delicious slow-cooked meat dish that can be used in lots of different ways.

7. Barbacoa

So it’s known in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean as barbacoa. So interestingly, this is the origin of the word barbecue.

Does it sound familiar? Barbacoa.

So obviously, barbacoa is cooked meat, it’s like beef or lamb or goat or pork and it’s the base of many delicious dishes throughout South America and Central America. So it’s often served in tacos and it’s topped with sweet corn, salsa, avocado, coriander.

Yum! So good!

To make barbacoa, you need to cook the meat really slowly. You cook it with onions and garlic and green chillis, chipotle which is like a smoked, dried jalapeno pepper, ground cumin, oregano, salt, pepper.

And you also add things like lime juice and vinegar and some bay leaves and broth. And you put all of it together and then you cook it for six to eight hours.

So at the end, the meat is just falling off the bone. You can shred it with a fork. It should really easily fall apart. And the slow cooking allows the spices to just soak through the whole dish giving barbacoa a spicy and meaty, decadent taste.

My goodness guys, I think this is the one. It’s literally making me drool.

One more destination to go, okay? We’re off to Mexico’s neighbour the USA.

So what’s America’s favourite comfort food? Well, officially as voted by the American people, it’s pizza. Everyone loves it, I think that’s the world’s favourite.

But a very close second is macaroni and cheese which is what we’re going to look at today.

8. Macaroni and cheese

Alright, it’s cheesy, creamy and soulful and affectionately known as mac ‘n’ cheese.

Now the best version of this dish has a lot of cheese it’s sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella, Jack cheese, gouda, fontina, gruyer, all sorts of cheese, right?

But it’s also about the white sauce which is butter, flour, milk and lots of seasoning so we’re talking about garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, thyme, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.

Then it’s baked and you can top it with a few things but of course, you guessed it, more cheese.

So good! My gosh!

Now do you remember the challenge that I set for you at the start of this lesson? I mentioned eight different sentences to describe the taste of the foods. Are you ready to read them out loud together? Let’s check.

  • Our Malaysian dish, the congee, that was delicious, wasn’t it? With all the herbs and seasoning, you get a fresh, earthy taste.
  • And our Vietnamese, bún thịt nướng, when it all comes together, it has a crunchy, caramelised texture.
  • Our biryani has deliciously complex flavours combined with tender meat.
  • The English roast is soft, warm and salty.
  • Italy’s tiramisu. The combination of coffee, liqueur and cocoa creates a decadent, honeyed flavour.
  • Tortilla de patatas. It all kind of cooks together, it creates this thick, delicious warm sort of pie.
  • In Mexico, the slow cooking allows the spices to soak into the whole dish, giving barbacoa a spicy, sauce and meaty decadent taste.
  • In America, the mac and cheese is cheesy, creamy and soulful.

So how many did you get?

If you got all of them right, well done! Great listening. You are on your way to some great culinary conversations.

I really hope you enjoyed that lesson, that’s it from my list of the best comfort foods around the world, inspired by mmmEnglish viewers.

Now if you’ve watched all the way through and you’re thinking: Emma! You got it completely wrong!

Oh my goodness, please share. If I could keep going and keep talking about more foods from more countries, I would say tagine from Morocco, kibbeh from Lebanon, feijoada from Brazil, there’s so many! I might make part two of this video I think.

So if you want me to make a second part and include it, make sure you add your favourite comfort food down below. What nostalgic memory does that food bring to your mind?

For now remember to like the video if you enjoyed it, subscribe to the channel just down there.

Keep an eye out for our next video, it’s gonna be about well actually, you’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?

For now, check out these ones right here. See you soon!

Links mentioned in the video

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