Food

I like food a lot and having travelled a fair bit I’ve been lucky to experience a great variety of culinary delights on their home turf. For me, a visit to the food bazaar is as exciting as one to the art museum, cathedral or other famous landmark attraction and a good deal of my memories of places are food-based.

Naschmarkt Vienna

Let me squeeze my brain and see what food memories fall out. I’ll ignore Poland and Britain for now:

Istanbul – some great but simple food – cheese, pickles, fresh fish – in Bebek on the banks of the Bosphorus. An incredible chocolate soufflé also near the Bosphorus but further North than Bebek (can’t remember where exactly). The spices and sweet stuff on display in the Egyptian bazaar. Generally speaking, this is a surprisingly great city for good grub.

France – a restaurant in Paris that only sold things made from cheese (starters, mains and deserts). Those ‘fountains’ of seafood. A superb Coq au vin in a very understated and traditional restaurant in Paris. Fish and bouillabaisse in Marseilles. Choucroute and foie gras in Strasbourg. Yummy hot chocolate and croissant for breakfast everywhere.

Munich – Leberspätzlesuppe, Schweinshaxe and Weisswurst in various beer-gardens.

Jerusalem – ‘Jerusalem Mix’, not a favourite of mine but unforgettable as it is a sort of mixed grill of parts of the chicken you’d normally throw in the bin – hearts, livers, gizzards, kidneys, toenails, lips, arse-cheeks……yuk! Falafel, mainly because of the arguments I had when telling them that this was exactly the same as the falafel I had in Arabia, as was much of the food there.

Arabia – generally delicious grilled meat, fish, salads & pickles everywhere. ‘Um Ali’ (a delicious sweet bread pudding) in a big tent in Riyadh during Ramadan. Great shawarma, also in Riyadh.

Brussels – moules frites & waffles.

Amsterdam – chips with mayonnaise, those fast-food croquette things and a Thai meal that gave me Herpes, at least that’s what I put it down to even if it is impossible.

USA – In Florida – stone crab claws, delicious. Soft shell crabs, not so. Ridiculously sized portions. Maple syrup too close to my scrambled egg. Amazing steaks.

Porto – octopus in ink.

Italy – those two restaurants in San Gimignano this summer. Some Gorgonzola on a train between Venice and Florence. Spaghetti alle vongole. Olives.

Greece – loads of fresh fish, salads, bread, potatoes, olives, taramasalata by the beach in Thassos.

I’ll stop there because I’m aware there’s so many missing and I’m getting hungry!

This all started because I rediscovered the photo (below) of the ham shop we ate at when I visited Madrid recently. An amazing place and with so much delicious ham and other goodies that I could have stayed there all night!

The other photo is my own lament to the poor treatment given to vinegar in Poland. Banished to plain bottles and the lower shelf for the part it played in filling empty shelves in communist times. I was searching for a new bottle of vinegar (for the chips don’t-cha know) as the one I’ve been using for a while now expired in mid 2008, so I discovered when I finally read the label. In the end I did find some slightly better vinegar, but it’s not easy and you can forget about finding any malt vinegar, which is really what one wants with chips.

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13 thoughts on “Food

  1. Scatts,

    I have to disagree. Chips deserve proper chip shop vinegar; non brewed condiment. It’s basically acetic acid with a little colouring, but my God I love the stuff.

    Chris

  2. or better still brewer’s condiment.

    Strange how very few other nations have the same culinary concept of salt ‘n’ vinegar on chips. It came to me one day how the tradition probably came about when I recently saw take away fruti di mare being sold on a stall in Italy – naturally with salt and vinegar.
    The same used to happen in the uk – less so now – no more cockle and winkle vans outside pubs on Sundays in White City anyay. Still, eating fish with vinegar and chips inevitably meant the chips were eaten with vinegar as well. And so it came to pass – delicious!

    p.s. no salt n vinegar crisps in Poland either!! What is it with paprika and paprika crisps in this country? Do they taste crap or what? Another blog topic perhaps?

  3. You are one lucky person to have been able to experience all those foods in person first hand. Do you have any favorites out of all. And more than likely I’m sure your dishes were made with fresh ingredients and not imported. Here I still can remember what some fresh fruit or tasted like from my memory bank.

  4. are these memories your low sugar blood reaction after sugar free candy today? ;)

    BTW: I loved Tuscan cuisine. They were eating only current harvest, so everything was fresh and full of taste.
    But I envy the variety of your exprience.

  5. Oh, and since your language includes a thing such as “gizzards” (no Polish Wiki on that) – would you have a fancy cuisinial names for lips or, eh, arsecheeks? (I am serious and asking for professional reasons.)

  6. Athelad,
    You can get salt and vinegar crisps in Poland. If you’re near M and S in Zloty Terasy, there’s a small food section at the back. They also sell custard creams; fantastic!

  7. Chris

    I am sure Spotted Dick is something only Brits have. (But Toad-in-the-Hole? Man, Jethro Tull is the band #1, so no surprise here.)

    Seriously: are there fancy names in Cuisine English that smuggle otherwise uninvitingly named lips or arsecheeks through to one’s plate? [Don’t tell me I can use Google. A search “lips” + “arsecheeks” + “eat” + “name” would give me the nearest Red Light District address at best.]

  8. I may have been exaggerating with the lips and arse-cheeks, Darth. Then again, the dish was such a mess of odd parts that I may not.

    One thing for sure, if you’re looking for fancy names for disgusting things to eat, you need to speak to French people.

  9. Darth,

    The only one I can think of off the top of my head is black pudding. It’s black, but it ain’t no pudding I can tell you. Scotland has haggis and although is is full of, let’s say ‘leftovers’, I quite like the stuff.

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