28 Comfort Food Dishes Made for These Times

Between the impending election and the Covid upswing, it’s time to eat your feelings

Melissa McCart
Published in
16 min readOct 22, 2020


Overhead shot of a casserole dish full of baked macaroni, crispy breadcrumbs on top.
Photo: Aya Brackett

A friend told me last week she celebrated her birthday in part by eating her annual ration of macaroni and cheese, around which she says she has no self-control. Mac’n cheese seems especially fitting for a year as shockingly bad as 2020 has been so far.

As if it hasn’t been challenging enough to manage emotions this year, we’re days away from an election in which the president has threatened not to leave office if he’s voted out, and the entire world seems to be experiencing an uptick in Covid cases.

How are you coping? Sure, there’s meditation, or yoga, or running. Or binge-watching Netflix. Or getting really good at a video game. Or playing the guitar. Or bird-watching. Or knitting and gardening. Or voraciously reading fiction. Or whatever it is you’ve been doing to quiet your mind and engage in something, anything, beyond the current state of affairs.

But let’s face it: Cooking has long been a go-to for managing stress (whether it works is another story, says the anxious cook). But I think it’s safe to say when it comes to eating feelings, it’s nachos over Niçoise salad, fries over frittata.

Whether sugar is your thing, cheese is the answer, or you’re craving a giant pile of fried things with some hot chiles to boot, a master list for eat-your-feelings inspiration could come in handy. I’ve asked our team which Bittman recipes do the trick. Here’s the motherlode — let us know what recipes should be added to the list in the comments.

1. Tortilla Soup

Makes: 4–6 servings
Time: 1½ hours

Tortilla soup.
Photo: Yunhee Kim for The New York Times


  • 2½ pounds bone-in chicken thighs or legs
  • 1 pound beef bones, or a cut of beef with a lot of bone in it like short ribs, optional
  • 1 medium onion, quartered leave the skin on
  • 1 head garlic, halved across the equator leave the skin on



Melissa McCart

Editor of Heated with Mark Bittman on Medium. Dog mom. Pho fan. Send me your pitches: melissamccart@gmail.com