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.
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.