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5 Regional Italian Comfort Foods

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Every Tuesday, Italian expat Emiko Davies is taking us on a grand tour of Italy, showing us how to make classic, fiercely regional dishes at home.

Today: The Italians have mastered the art of comfort food. Here are five favorites to carry you through fall.

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It might seem strange, but there is no word or phrase for "comfort food" in the Italian language. Perhaps that's because practically all Italian food is inherently comforting -- to Italians, these kinds of dishes are simply "food."

What exactly is comfort food? It's satisfying on a physical and emotional level; it's a dish whose aromas and flavors trigger waves of nostalgia. It's usually something that's warm and hearty, with lots of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates increase seratonin levels in the brain and produce an immediate calming feeling (hello, pasta!) -- it's "mood food." And don't forget something sweet, and possibly with chocolate!

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Whether it's a one-pot meal that simmers on the stove for hours, a hearty, chunky ragù with spaghetti, or a classic tiramisu, the Italians have comfort food down pat. Here are my 5 favorites:

Maiale al Latte (Pork Cooked in Milk)
While it's not known for being pretty, this incredibly delicious, slow-cooked dish will win you over with its flavor. It's perfect for a homey night in -- and the leftovers are even better.

 

Lasagne alla Bolognese
A dish made to satisfy and comfort -- what's more inviting than lasagne? Make it like they do in Bologna, with lots of béchamel sauce and a beef and pork ragù.

 

Uova al Pomodoro (Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce)
Sometimes comfort means not spending too much time in the kitchen or at the grocery store. This simple dish is for those occasions; it's an adaptable one-pot meal made with a few pantry staples.

 

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Classic Abruzzese Ragù
Handmade spaghetti calls for a proper, rich sauce, like the chunky, three-meat Abruzzese ragù that always dresses spaghetti alla chitarra. 

 

Classic Tiramisu
Nothing beats a creamy, slightly boozy, chocolate-laced dessert for a cozy night in -- and classic tiramisu is at the top of my list. You can even do it without a recipe.

Photos by Emiko Davies

Tags: comfort food, regional italian food, desserts, pantry meals, tiramisu, pasta, pork