As authors, we put our characters through a lot. It is not unusual for them to be stressed, terrified, or in pain, so it is important to understand how they react. One of the fundamental ways human beings combat stress is through favourite food and drinks. In Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series, the protagonist falls back on tea when in remarkable situations, and who can forget the second breakfasts demanded by hobbits in Lord of the Rings.
Choosing a food or beverage that a character craves when overwrought should reflect the personality of that character. It does not have to be what is expected. For example, what if the tough gunslinger’s secret passion is for petite fours? They might remind him of his mother, reflect an inner gentle heart, or maybe he really loves lovely feminine things but can’t admit to it openly. Another character might be an overt vegetarian, pushing it in other character’s faces, but secretly craves steak, showing the untrustworthy nature or false pride of that person?
On the other hand, it could simply be a chance to unwind emotionally and allow the reader and character a respite. The Hardy Boys and their hamburgers are a good example of that—hearty enjoyable food that is in keeping with teenage boys, yet always feels great after a good chase scene.
Whether the food is a running joke or serious insight into the character, writing down each main character’s comfort choice is a worthwhile exercise.