There are many foods touted as immune system boosters. There’s really no hard evidence at all for most of them, but that might not matter. We do know, quite definitely, that stress is hugely damaging to our immune systems, and if ingesting ginger or green tea or whatever you believe in has a positive effect psychologically, then chances are good that it’ll have benefits physically.

Culinary comfort may be one of the most effective de-stressors we have. It certainly triggers the feel-good hormones and lowers the stress ones. Even if that’s only for the duration of cooking and eating dinner, it’s a good thing. Of course everyone’s idea of comfort is culturally specific, so I’m not suggesting that any one thing might be a global panacea, but for me and many I know, mash can carve out a space of simple bliss to wallow in briefly. Only a good version of course. I emphasise that because, curiously, this is something that both home cooks and restaurants often disrespect. Or perhaps, ...

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