Comfort food from around the world

Updated: May 6, 2021

Image: Harald Groven, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

[Bryony Wharfe | Contributing Writer]

What’s your comfort food? What food do you eat when you’re sad, happy, or even drunk? Does it change depending on your mood, and does it depend on where you’re from? I decided to ask some of my friends from around the world and find out!

Kathie Harb: student at Leiden University, Netherlands. From the United Arab Emirates.

“My favourite comfort foods are dark chocolate and dates. The chocolate coz it tastes amazing, and the dates coz I think they’re a healthy alternative to chocolate; and though they are less tasty in Europe, I grew up in the UAE where they were readily available and super yummy! I eat chocolate to treat myself after I’ve achieved something, like if I finish a part of an essay or I had a stressful day; it’s a nice reward. It can also be motivating, to start your day with some Nutella and sweetness.”

Bonnat Hacienda El Rosario 75_ Dark Chocolate

Lee McCoy, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

Ismail Rifau: recent MBA post-grad at Greenwich Institute in Sri Lanka. From the Maldives.

“My comfort food would be, I guess, the traditional one over here: rice with Rihaakuru [kind of a paste made by over cooking tuna], and the stuff that goes with it. Why I like it? When I am sad, it reminds me of where I come from and the memories that goes with it, giving reasons enough to not be sad anymore. As for happy, this food is so good that happiness comes with it. I love eating it, coz even though its traditional, we don’t get it every day anymore, as the amount of people who makes it are decreasing by day; and it’s not exactly available through the market or restaurants like other stuff. I like it when I’m happy because it spices up the happiness.”

CheryL TeH Ya Zhen: international student who studied at University of Hertfordshire. From Malaysia.

“Malaysia has a lot of food as we have three different main races of food together, with many food from other countries – usually we like to take western food as our comfort food, I guess, like pasta and all. But if it were to be a Malaysian dish, I would say it will be Bubur Cha Cha. I know sounds weird but it’s a type of soup like dessert, served cold or hot. Definitely something to look forward to during cold rainy days when it’s hot, or a nice chilled bowl of this during the hot days.”

Old China Cafe Bubur Cha-cha

Chee.hong, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

Kitti Borbély: international student who studied at University of Hertfordshire and Aalborg University. From Denmark.

“It will sound very general, but chocolate when I am sad, tired, annoyed; basically anytime, because even if I am happy and want to give myself a treat, and I go for chocolate or cakes… If I am drunk usually I do not eat, which is a problem later on. Recently, I have started to eat soup – it just makes me feel more at home, I guess.”

Rebecca Isjwara: student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKURST). From Indonesia.

“Generally, I would go for whatever is fresh, such as fruit sundaes – well, Indonesian-styled ‘sundaes’ which is more like fruits and shaved ice. Under the influence, my go-to are peanuts and chips. I would also go for sushi if I feel like rewarding myself after a lot of hard work.”

 Harald Groven, Flickr,

Harald Groven, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

Kimberly Chapman-Hunt: graduated from University of the Arts London. From America.

“Well, I usually want a California burrito or carne asada fries when I’m drunk, or a bean and cheese burrito, or tomato soup when I want comfort food. Fish tacos are really popular in California for like, everyday food.”

Natalie Tha: student at Tokyo Institute of Technology. From Thailand.

“My comfort food is ice-cream. I usually eat it when I’m sad or tired, and on Friday night when I’m watching movies. My favourite flavour is chocolate and matcha (green tea). But when I was in Thailand I didn’t have it often because it doesn’t taste very good.”

Ice cream

Benjamin Horn, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

Emily Wheeler: international student who studied at University of Hertfordshire. From America.

“I’d have to say mine is definitely tomato soup and grilled cheese, such as when I’m feeling down on cold winter days for a warm and satisfying pick me up.”

Sylvia Eun Choi: student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKURST). From Hong Kong.

“My favourite Korean food would be ‘Kimbap’. It is like rice wrapped in seaweed, and it’s a common picnic food in Korea. I like it not only ’cause it tastes so good, but reminds me of my childhood when I went to picnics with family and friends. Usually, every family has their own special recipe for making kimbap. You can put sausage, salad, egg, or anything you like inside to wrap it with rice and seaweed. So, when you go on a field trip in school, all your friends bring kimbap, but in a very different style and ingredients. It was the best part of the field trip, where you get to share them with your friends and vote which one tastes the best. So, although kimbap is a really common street/common food in Korea, it’s still my favourite Korean dish which comforts me all the time. When someone asks me what I want to eat for my birthday, I would always say kimbap among all the other delicious Korean dish and everyone would think I’m weird.”


Gamene, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

Pwu Lau: student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKURST). From Hong Kong.

“My comfort food would probably be sultanas, I guess? Whenever I feel slightly hungry or tired I tend to eat a lot of those.”

David van Driel: student at Leiden University. From the Netherlands.

“Hmm, I guess McDonalds; I like it because it’s fast and easy. It’s also really salty, so it gives you the idea that it’s tasty, which it never is in hindsight. Also, it’s fatty, which makes it delicious when you’re drunk. It’s also funny to go there; the strangest stuff happens in McDonalds, at least in Leiden.”


Image: Pixabay

Johan Ferreira: graduated from University of Pretoria. From South Africa.

“When I’m under a lot of pressure and/or stress… I resort to Doritos chips – especially the sweet chilli flavour. I’m not that fond of sweet things, but those Doritos chips are my saving grace.”

Nikita Baranov: student at Gordonstoun Boarding School, Scotland. From Russia.

“Well, it really depends where I am, so whenever I am in Russia I usually eat Russian traditional food which is different types of soups, rice and beef. But when I am In the UK or other countries, I prefer to eat steaks and grilled fish. So mostly I eat meat.”

borscht served

Liz West, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

Megan Hunt: international student who studied at University of Hertfordshire.

From America.

“I’d have to say that my favourite comfort food or dessert is probably cookies. I like them because they can have several different flavour and textures, so they never get boring. Also, they’re convenient to eat as you don’t need to worry about napkins or silverware, and also the fact that they’re smaller. Though they’re not any better for you than cake and ice cream, the fact that they’re smaller kind of makes you feel like maybe they are.”

Yichao Han, international student who studied at University of Hertfordshire.

From China.

“My favourite food is noodles, but when we are celebrating we usually eat hot pot and dumplings, because that is the traditional way to express our happiness. When I feel uncomfortable, I normally drink tomato soup; it makes me feel warm. Baked fish is now my favourite, for no reason. The food I mentioned above in Chinese is 山西刀削面, 四川火锅, 饺子, 重庆烤鱼。”


Momo, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

Sahaj Garg: student at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKURST). From India.

“I love Mexican food, like quesadillas, tortillas, nachos, enchiladas etc., when I am upset. The food is very delicious and it just helps me get over my problems. If I am feeling homesick or unwell, I prefer Indian food because being an Indian, I have been fed Indian food for as long as I can remember.”

Alvaro Dogar: student at the University of Granada. From Spain.

“When it’s Sunday and I don´t work, and I don’t go to study, I prefer to eat a ‘Spanish paella.’ It reminds me that it’s my relaxing day. If I go to a party and I’m drunk I will eat a shawarma or a kebab, so Mexican food typically. When I feel sad I eat chocolate, but I don’t know why – maybe because it’s one of my favourite foods, so I think it makes me feel better. If I’m happy I eat something with a lot of carbohydrates like pasta or rice. Also, I eat a load of carbohydrates on the same day that I exercise, so I will burn all the carbohydrates from running or cycling.”

Georgina Phipps: student at University of Hertfordshire. From the UK.

“Mine’s just tea and biscuits – so British!”

Tea and Biscuits - Untitled

Caroline, Flickr, CC BY 4.0

#Comfortfood #diversity

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