The New York Times City Room blog is tossing around the idea that comfort-food preferences may be influenced by gender:
Research out of Cornell University suggests that females tend to prefer snack-related comfort foods (candy and chocolate) while men prefer heartier comfort foods (pasta or casseroles). The researchers speculate that the gender differences may relate to upbringing. Men may have been conditioned to prefer hot or labor-intensive meals (conjuring up memories of their mothers taking care of them) while women seek convenient comfort foods (a form of self-indulgence).
Renzata of Serious Eats isn’t really buying the study, since she’s a woman who prefers heartier fare—but she also admits that macaroni and soup are less comforting when she has to make them for herself.
This raises another question: Is food that is prepared for you by another person (be it a chef, a friend, or a family member) more comforting than food you’ve cooked yourself? And does the answer to this question vary along gender lines?