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Around the World in 9 Comfort Foods

Rachel Tepper Paley
February 3, 2014

It’s February. Those two words alone can strike fear into hearts, but there is a balm for winter’s bane: a bowl of something cheesy, cozy, and soul-satisfying. Welcome to Comfort Food Week!

There is a time for slinking into little black dresses and ordering seven-course tasting menus. There is also a time for huddling at home and supping on something warm and comforting.

This is an essential truth you’ll find, in some form or another, across the globe. Because everyone needs comforting sometimes. Here’s how to instantly feel better, no matter where you are in the world.

Äggakaka (Sweden)

Photo credit: Flickr/ Skånska Matupplevelser

Swedes are partial to this savory egg cake topped hearty hunks of bacon. (Butter and pork fat = layers of luxury.) It’s often made on the stovetop in a skillet, as in this recipe.

Colcannon (Ireland)

Photo credit: Flickr/ The Aimless Cook

Think of colcannon as mashed potatoes, only much, much better. Butter and milk give the mash a creamy consistency, and leeks and cabbage add heft. The best part: the crunchy, browned bits from the dish’s brief stay in the broiler.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (Great Britain)

Photo credit: Flickr/Malmaison Hotels & Brasseries

The Brits sure do love their puddings. Flavored with dates, drenched in a thick toffee sauce, and served warm, it’s basically a moist cake that you can eat with a spoon. Hello delicious. 

Congee (China, Japan, Korea…)

Photo credit: Getty

Although it has a different name depending what country you’re in, congee, porridge’s Asian cousin, is always made by boiling rice for about two hours until the grains disintegrate. What’s left is thick broth that takes on the flavor of whatever you put in it; toppings run the gamut from stewed pork to fried crullers.

Chilaquiles (Mexico)

Photo credit: Flickr/popartichoke

Chilaquiles, sometimes called the “poor man’s dish,” is a traditional meal of fried corn tortillas simmered in salsa or mole. It’s most often topped with shredded chicken, refried beans, and the mild Mexican cheese queso fresco.

Dal (India)

Photo credit: Getty

There are innumerable types of the lentil stew dal out there—different versions are made with peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, and more—but they’re all spiced with curry and served hot and alongside rice or the flatbread roti.

Nasi Goreng (Indonesia)

Photo credit: Flickr/ avlxyz

In Indonesia, leftover rice makes up nasi goreng, a fried rice dish often eaten for breakfast. We like the looks of this version seasoned with chiles, shrimp paste, and palm sugar.

Bagna Cauda (Italy)

Photo credit: Flickr/ slgckgc

This garlicky dip was born in Italy, but should have a place at any table that appreciates the stinking rose. In this version, whole cloves of garlic are baked at about 275 degrees before taking a plunge in olive oil mixed with butter and salted anchovies.

Stuffed Cabbage (Hungary)

Photo credit: Getty

This dish checks the major boxes for comfort food: it’s hearty, thanks to a filling of ground beef and rice, and, because it’s simmered in tomato sauce that doubles as a broth, it can be eaten with a spoon. A dollop of sour cream and it’s heaven. We suggest trying this recipe from Martha Stewart.

So sorry, night out on the town, you’ll  have to wait. Tonight, we’re staying in with these guys.