Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Travel, Eat, Repeat.

Time to rank every country that I've ever been to, in a culinary way. My friend and coworker Dre suggested that I rank the Asian countries that I've been to based on food. Too difficult, I thought. Somehow, ranking EVERY country that I've been to seemed to make more sense. Anyway, here's a hodgepodge of countries based on my thoughts on their food, at least those lucky countries that I've chosen to inhabit for a time. Of course, these things are always done in reverse order, so that's the way it shall be done..

26. Vatican City - I'm sure the Cardinal Cafeteria is beyond reproach, but I only spent few hours in VC and never managed to eat within its walls. Default is a cheap loss, but a loss nonetheless.

25. Monaco - I'm pretty sure I didn't eat anything here either. It beat Vatican because I was here in the world's second smallest country for several minutes more than I spent in the Holy See, thus it's entirely possible that I may have bought a bag of chips at a convenience store that I've since forgotten about.

24. Bahamas - I've been there twice on cruises, so I ate, um, food, on the boat since it was free. I had a few beers in the Bahamas on my second trip, so I guess that counts as food.

23. Denmark - Finally, a country I actually ate in. Sure I could have started the countdown here, but then how could I brag about having been to Monte Carlo? I spent a night in Copenhagen due to an airline strike, so both my dinner and breakfast were free. The price was really the only good thing about them.

22. Czech Republic - I always seek out local food in every country I go to, sometimes just to do it. In Prague, I dined on a traditional Czech meal of pork, potatoes, and cabbage early on in my time there. Having scratched that off my list, I had no problem eating the remainder of my Bohemian meals at McDonald's.

21. Austria - This was another country where I spent more time at the dreaded Mac than I should have. The proper Austrian meals that I ate were nothing worth writing about in my Moleskene while hanging out in Viennese cafes.

20. Germany - As I'm sure you can guess from the previous few - I'm no fan of Northern European food. Germany was ranked higher because of the massive amount of Turkish restaurants around.

19. Netherlands - I ate a delicious meal in Leiden that almost redeemed Holland for me, although that restaurant was largely French. I'll never forget spending $30 for salad and a couple beers in Amsterdam back in the day. I must have been high.

18. Morocco - I dug the Moroccan food I ate. Thing is, I was only in he country for a few hours. Also, the best Moroccan restaurant that I've ever been to was in Seoul. The second best was in Disney World. Of course, I was only in Tangier, maybe if I explore the real part of the country I'd find better food.

17. Canada - It was American food. It was. Canada invented adding gravy to fries. That's it.

16. Spain - To be fair, when I was in Spain, Tapas weren't popular in America yet, so I didn't really get it. That said, when I met a girl on the train, I ended up taking her to dinner at... McD, because every other place we checked out at the Barcelona train station looked wretched.

15. Taiwan - Now we are getting to countries that offered food that I truly loved. I don't have anything bad to say about Taiwanese food, but here it is at 15. If I spent a couple weeks in Taiwan, I'm sure it would rise.

14. Japan - How is Japan 14? Well, I've been to some pretty goddamn delicious countries. It loses points for being expensive, I suppose.

13. Philippines - Is Filipino food better than Japanese or Taiwanese? Of course not. The Philippines wins a lot of points for its massive international assortment, along with having awesome grocery stores.

12. UK - Like the Phils, the UK gets mad points for international influence. Fish and chips suck, but the best Indian food in the world is probably in London.

11. Belgium - I've got a soft spot for moules and frites. Chocolate and beer push Belgium over the edge.

10. Korea - Two weeks ago, Korea would have been a couple spots lower. I've long had a love-hate relationship with Korean food. Barbecue is awesome, most everything else isn't. Free kimbap arrived in the office the other day, and it was a moral dilemma. Should I eat kimbap,or spend money on something good? What bumped Korea up? My recent discoveries of chicken fried rice and bulgogi fried noodles. Awesome.

9. Indonesia - My only experience in Indonesia was in Bali. I presume some of the food I ate was traditional Indonesian. It was all awesome, except for this one Mexican place I went. Lesson learned. Don't eat Mexican in Indonesia. I presume the reciprocal rule is also true.

8. China - I feel like I'm cheating by saying "China" here. I haven't been to the PRC proper, just Hong Kong. Sure, since 1997 Hong Kong is technically China, except if one is considering internet accessibility, currency, visa regulations, law, the side of the road people drive on, freedom of the press, or language. The food in Hong Kong was unbelievable. Sure, the local Dim Sum brings you in, but Hong Kong has a million cultural cuisines. Indian. Malaysian. Chicagoan. And tell me another place that someone could come across an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse for under 10 bucks (outside Vegas).

7. Mexico - Mexican food is probably my single favorite ethnic food. I admit, I haven't been to any major cities in Mexico, but my main reason for Mexico not being higher is the lack of variety.

6. Italy - hot damn, is there some good food in Italy. Italian cuisine is rangier than you thought (unless you are an actual foodie, in which case, why the hell are you at this blog?) and the slow food/fresh ingredient scenes has been going on there for some time. #6 is good, but why isn't Italy higher? I'm a daego, after all. One word - Venice. Unless you are either a) spending a shit ton of money, or b) know somebody who took you to some crazy back alley place that the tourists could never find; then the food sucks. High school cafeterias offer up better food than any restaurant between San Marco and the Rialto. Side-note - that's why I prefer Florence. Florence keeps its cool nightlife hidden from the tourist masses, but every corner trattoria puts an earnest effort into making quality food.

5. Thailand - This will surprise nobody - Thai food is good. If you've never been to Thailand, this will bum you out - you can get better Thai food than you've ever had on the streets of Bangkok for fifty cents.

4.Singapore - Singapore is a city-state made of Chinese, Indians, and Malays. They all brought food.

3. France - I don't need to tell you that the French are pretty goddamn good at putting together a solid dish. As a general total, I probably like Thai, Italian, and Mexican food more than French food. France still beats them out on this list. The deciding factor there would be the fact that France was the venue for the single best meal I've ever had in my life. The Monster Burger that I ate at a Hardee's in Bozeman, Montana after living exclusively on bread and mustard for 3 days comes close, but I would have to give the nod to the decadent multi-course French meal that I ate with some friends in Versailles. If Hardee's served decent wine, or even shitty wine, I might have a different number one. As it stands, the ridiculous spread that we devoured in the shadow of a blushing Louis's ghost will have to hold the top rank.

2. Malaysia - The best cuisine that you've never had, and one probably better than anything you have. Malaysian food is a magical mix of Thai, Indian, and Chinese with an Arab twist. Melded together, it is the single best national cuisine, particularly in Penang. Case in point - I've strayed from the path and ordered non-local dishes in culinary capitals like Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Paris, and Rome. Hell, in Singapore, I even went to a Hardee's, although to be fair it's probably the only Hardee's in Asia. When I went to Penang, I ate 100% local, and had no desire to do otherwise.

1. USA - C'mon. What else goes with Number One like USA? Beyond 'merican staples, pretty much any of these cuisines can be had in any sizable city in the States. New York, Chicago, and San Francisco are easily 3 of the best 5 culinary cities in the world.


eric said...

in some cities, especially madrid and surrounding areas, spain has more turks and arabs making various wrapped things than korea and they are all over the place

also, you can order beer in mcdonalds. HOWEVER, some cities suck absolute ass for food. such as pamplona where the running of the bulls takes place.

for miles around literally the only thing that makes any sense to eat is bread and cheese. and we did, for days

they more than make up for it in fantastic $3 bottles of wine and $12 bottles of jack, though

Anonymous said...

good god... that was piss poor paragraph formation and punctuation. sorry, readers

M.K. said...

I'm going to have to try some Malaysian food now.