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Cold food is the best food – ANITH
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Cold food is the best food

Cold food is the best food

We can all agree that food served fresh from the oven is delicious, right? But as a food connoisseur and passionate eater I’m here to tell you there’s something even better than hot food: cold food.

To be clear, I’m not talking about foods like ice cream that are normally served in a chilled state. I’m talking about foods that are traditionally served hot, then refrigerated and eaten cold. Leftovers!

Many people choose to warm up leftovers, which is something I’ve never understood, because cold food is freakin’ delicious. Not only does it taste better IMO, but you don’t have to waste time impatiently waiting for it to cool down. There are no tongue burns, and no heat or steam to distract your mouth from enjoying flavors to the fullest. Cold food is the best.

Now, I get that some people will never be on Team Cold Food due to personal issues with texture changes that result from cooling. But to those die-hard reheaters who are simply reluctant to try chilled leftovers, I offer you this ranking of ten of the best foods to eat cold in hopes it gives you to another wonderful way to enjoy food.

10. Shepherd/cottage pie

Shepherds pie

Image: Shutterstock / Robyn Mackenzie

Though there are a number of ways to make Shepherd’s pie, my simplest go-to recipe includes three main ingredients: ground beef, mashed potatoes, and corn. The combination is magical and the three foods complement each other well when hot, but when the dish is refrigerated the separate layers really come together.

The corn wedges itself into the mashed potatoes, which become cold clumps of starchy goodness, and the meat hardens, making it super easy to stick a fork in and enjoy all three components in one bite.

9. Banana pancakes

Image: MiguelMal/getty images

Freshly made pancakes with syrup are an amazing breakfast, but two-ingredient banana pancakes — which are made from bananas and eggs — make for a surprisingly scrumptious cold snack. Make the pancakes around the size of a silver dollar and stick them in the fridge. Then, you can easily grab them on the go. They’re so delicious you won’t even need syrup.

8. Rice

Shrimp fried rice

Image: Getty Images/amana images RM

Rice is a tricky cold food, because some dishes like rice pilaf or fried rice with oil, veggies, or a protein are absolutely bomb when devoured chilled. But trying to chow down on plain rice straight from the fridge is one of the most unpleasant culinary experiences you’ll ever have.

Plain rice gets clumpy and hard when kept in the fridge, and can barely be tolerated without a bit of heat and a sauce of some kind if you’re really desperate. So be sure to stick to flavorful, ingredient-heavy rice if you’re not in the mood to reheat. 

7. Cake

Big piece of chocolate cake on plate with fork on side.

Cake is not hot, I know. But it’s most often served at room temperature, so it counts. Please hear me when I say that much like revenge, cake is best served cold. Refrigeration causes the cake itself to become more dense and the frosting to thicken, making it taste like a completely different, extra delicious sweet treat. Also, sticking your fork into chilly cake is a significantly more satisfying experience.

6. Meatloaf

Meatloaf

Image: LauriPatterson/Getty Images

Cold meatloaf is a gift from the heavens. If you think the hunk of ground beef tastes good when it’s hot, just WAIT until it chills and the flavors of garlic, tomato sauce, and possibly even bacon on top fuse together. *chef’s kiss*

5. Noodles

Chinese Noodles.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Eating cold noodles is sort of like eating cold rice, but much better. It should come as no surprise, because cold pasta salads are so great, but chilling dishes like lo mein and pad Thai is highly recommended. The flavors pop and the noodles transform from warm and cozy comfort carbs to a cool and refreshing comfort carbs.

4. Thanksgiving dinner

Stuffing.

Image: Shutterstock / Brent Hofacker

Thanksgiving dinner is great, but have you ever eaten cold Thanksgiving leftovers? Turkey, stuffing, fried cauliflower, cornbread, Brussels sprouts, macaroni and cheese — they’re all wonderful cold. And yes, brace yourselves, because I’m about to add mashed potatoes to the list. They’re delicious and if you haven’t tried them cold don’t you dare fight me.

3. Lasagna 

Lasagna

Image: Getty Images/StockFood

No one’s here to complain about the beauty that is hot lasagna, with all it’s saucy goodness and stringy melty cheese, but cold lasagna deserves some love, too. When hot pasta is covered with sauce of any kind really, it often drips off as its form is much more fluid. In the refrigerator, however, sauce solidifies more and really has the chance to absorb into the pasta.

In my opinion baked ziti is the best cold pasta, because of the cheese, of course. And speaking of sauce, eggplant and chicken parmesan are also wise cold food choices.

2. Chicken 

Three fried chicken legs.

Image: Getty Images/EyeEm

There’s a very good chance that chicken in any form will be phenomenal cold. Fried chicken, chicken wings, chicken cutlets, General Tso’s, tenders, quesadillas. Can I get a yum!?

1. Pizza

Cold cheese pizza.

Image: Shutterstock / BW Folsom

While the options listed above are all excellent starting points, nothing can compare to the fairest cold food of them all: pizza. It may not be the most visually appetizing food in the world, but the combo of cold cheese, cold dough, cold sauce, and cold toppings are phenomenal.

Cold pizza is one of the most commonly beloved chilled foods, often seen as the exception in cases where people prefer their food served fresh and hot or have issues with the texture of cold foods. And to find out why we turned to some experts.

Why cold pizza reigns supreme

In 2000, Dr. Maureen Cooper — a Scottish chemistry lecturer at Stirling University — took an in-depth look at the science behind cold pizza. When attempting to determine what happens to a pie when it’s refrigerated and why some might feel it tastes better cold than hot, she told BBC News the key is in the tomato puree.

According to the publication, “The traditional pizza base has fibres that trap water, preventing it from seeping through to the cooked dough and making it soggy. And since fat and water don’t mix, the melted cheese topping then sits nicely above the puree.”

“Since fat and water don’t mix, the melted cheese topping then sits nicely above the puree.”

Essentially, the pie tastes so good because when the cheese and puree get cold, the dough and crust remain firm.

On the other hand, Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS, a food scientist at food science and research firm, Corvus Blue LLC, thinks the enhanced flavor is a result of the toppings. When pizza is refrigerated its “medley of aromatic ingredients” such as garlic, herbs, and umami-rich toppings like tomatoes, olives, and mushrooms, “all meld together and offer an eye-opening pungency that is actually better in the morning for many and better than something hot and spicy.”

Another pro of cold pizza is that you can eat it for breakfast. Would you ever eat hot pizza at 9:00 a.m.? No. That’s simply not a thing that’s done rules when it comes to cold pizza, and the cold cheesy pizza might be even be healthier than some breakfast cereals. 

Let’s hear it for the cheese

Shelke, who’s also a food safety regulations professor at Johns Hopkins University, went on to note that the cheese on pizza is another reason it’s so satisfying cold.

“It should be pointed out that it is pizzas with cheese topping that taste good when cold,” she said. “During cooling, the fat and protein in the cheese congeal and act like a protective blanket to trap in the aromas of the tasty ingredients in the layer below.”

“During cooling, the fat and protein in the cheese congeal and act like a protective blanket to trap in the aromas of the tasty ingredients in the layer below.”

She went on to explain that when one bites into cold pizza melts the cheese warms up in the mouth, which further brings out the cheese’s taste and flavor of the other ingredients.

Eager to hear from someone a bit closer to the pizza kitchen, we checked in with Gary Bimonte, pizza expert and grandson of Frank Pepe, founder of the famous pizza restaurant Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut.

Bimonte, who now runs Pepe’s Pizza alongside six other family members, understands the love of cold pizza. While he prefers his pizza hot, he says a lot of customers enjoy the pizza the next day, because like pasta, “the flavors get absorbed into the dough and other ingredients.”

He also noted mozzarella cheese becomes especially flavorful when it has time to mingle with and absorb the flavors of the tomato sauce, which makes leftover pizza extra delicious.

Beware: The exceptions

While I firmly believe the taste of pizza and many other foods improves after being refrigerated, not ALL foods should be eaten cold. There are definitely exceptions to the cold rule — for example, no one wants cheeseburgers fresh from the fridge. I’m not a monster here, people.

Tacos must also be eaten warm, and though cold fries are acceptable, cold chicken nuggets are a big no. As Gilmore Girls warned us, cold egg rolls are not a delicacy, and does anyone enjoy slurping cold soup unless it’s intentionally gazpacho? I hope not.

The moral of the story here is that even cold food might not always work and it’s definitely not for everyone, you shouldn’t dismiss it without giving it a chance. Stay cool, everyone.

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Anith Gopal
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