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  • Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten has a simple food philosophy.
  • The Food Network star says there are some foods that are “universally comforting.”
  • In her latest cookbook Modern Comfort Food, Garten gives her take on what makes comfort food so comforting.
Ina Garten doing a cooking segment on the Today Show on Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten loves comfort food so much she wrote a book about it. Modern Comfort Food was the title of her 12th cookbook, and it was released at a time when we couldn’t have needed it more. Here’s Garten’s take on what makes comfort food so comforting.

‘Barefoot Contessa’ star Ina Garten has a simple food philosophy

In Modern Comfort Food — which was released in October 2020 — Garten shared with her readers a simple philosophy about comfort food. She did admit that she said it “half-jokingly,” but the sentiment remained true.

“I often say you can be miserable before eating a cookie, and you can be miserable after eating a cookie. But you can never be miserable while you’re eating a cookie,” Garten wrote as the opening line of Modern Comfort Food.

The Food Network star explained that “food has an almost magical ability to comfort us, soothe us, and bring us together in so many ways.” She also notes that food is an important part of life, and it’s “more than simple sustenance.” Not only do we celebrate with food, we also turn to it on “not-so-happy occasions.”

What is comfort food?

The Barefoot Contessa explained to her fans that comfort food is “food that’s not just nourishing but also emotionally satisfying.”

No matter what’s going on in the world or in your life, food can be there for you in good times and in bad. Garten told her readers that she wrote her latest cookbook during the pandemic, when people were isolated and stressed.

She said that everyone she knew had their fridges and pantries stocked with ingredients they could cook for weeks — chicken, veggies, fruits, rice, beans, and dried legumes. But sometimes you just don’t want to eat healthy.

“My friend Deborah Davis commented that she opens her fridge and looks at all the healthy ingredients in there but all she wants is a grilled cheese sandwich. I can totally relate to that!” Garten wrote.

Ina Garten gives her take on what makes comfort food so comforting

Garten says there are many foods that are “universally comforting,” and a mixed green salad isn’t one of them. However, comfort foods are often dishes that “transcend cultures and borders.”

“During times of financial and political stress, there’s something about a hamburger and Coke or a big bowl of beef stew that just makes us feel better,” Garten explains. “They’re not fancy — in fact, quite the opposite. They’re familiar, delicious, and soul-satisfying. In other words, they’re comfort food.”

The Barefoot Contessa says specific comfort food dishes can be different for each person

Everyone may love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of macaroni and cheese, but Garten admits that specific comfort food dishes can be different for each person and each culture.

When it comes to her cookbook, she was focused on serving up “seriously satisfying and delicious food that will feed not only your craving, but also your soul.” The goal was to help her readers feel a bit happier and take care of themselves with less stress.

When she started writing the book, she thought it would be coming out around election time. Which is stressful enough in itself. But at the time she had no idea just how stressed the world would be when Modern Comfort Food hit bookstores.

Ina Garten’s latest cookbook had a better angle than even she expected

Garten explained to Shondaland that when she started writing her book in 2018, she knew she  would be “coming against an election.”

“I knew, no matter what side of the aisle you are on, you’re going to be stressed. But that’s all I knew,” she said. “Little did I know there would be layers upon layers of incredibly stressful things going on right now. So, it turned out to be a much better topic than I expected.”

She says that “literally nothing changed” about her cookbook because of the pandemic, except for adding one or two sentences to the intro.


‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten Has 2 ‘Grown Up’ Versions of Her Top-Rated Mac and Cheese

“It seemed delirious to put out a book that didn’t acknowledge the pandemic. I mean, this is kind of where I live. I mean, all of my books really are about comfort food. There are times when you know, you feel like a really good salad, but not now,” Garten said. “This is the time that you need smashed eggs on toast, and beef stew that’s been braised with red wine and cognac.”

The Barefoot Contessa: Modern Comfort Food airs Sundays on the Food Network.