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True travel tales: your most exquisite, delectable meal .. & the one that left you shuddering ..

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 09:48 pm


From today’s paper:. Lonely Planet’s World’s 10 Iconic Meals.

Which got me thinking about both travelers' food.

Not just the good, but also the bad & the ugly.

If you were to name your very best meal while traveling, what would it be?

Your choices don't have to be "iconic", OK? Wink

And if you were to name your most revolting eating experience while traveling, what would that be?

(Of course, any travel anecdotes you’d like to indulge in are most welcome, too! Very Happy )


Quote:
World's top 10 iconic meals

http://images.theage.com.au/2010/05/28/1519056/lead-gumbo-420x0.jpg
Taste of New Orleans ... a serving of gumbo.

Eating can be the best part of traveling, and travel authority Lonely Planet has come up with a list of the top 10 cities across the globe to enjoy iconic dishes.

1. TAPAS IN BARCELONA, SPAIN

Patatas bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce), calamares fritos (fried squid), boquerones (anchovies), croquetas de jamon (ham croquettes), chorizo (pork sausage), pimientos asados (roasted peppers), albondigas (meatballs) and berenjenas gratinadas (cheese-baked aubergine) are just some mouth-watering examples of the Spanish snacks known as tapas. The vivacious Catalonian capital of Barcelona excels in the creation of tapas, particularly along La Rambla late in the evening when residents and tourists alike slowly graze their way south from Placa de Catalunya. Leave the cutlery on the table and claim the tapas with a toothpick or your fingers.

2. PASTA IN NAPLES, ITALY

Food historians still debate whether Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy by importing it from China in the 13th century, or whether the Etruscans had already embraced it long beforehand. But it's generally agreed that by the 18th century Naples had turned the mixing of flour and water into a bona fide industry and was the world's pasta capital. As an encore, Naples also arranged a blind date between pasta and squashed tomatoes, and romance blossomed. So the next time you're wandering the crumbling streets of Naples' historic center, make a beeline for the nearest trattoria and tuck into some pasta napolitana.

3. DONER KEBAB IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY


The traditional doner kebab consists of a plate of grilled mutton on a bed of buttered rice, and many of Turkey's restaurants still serve it this way. Far more prominent nowadays, though, is its fast-food cousin, which takes the form of a pita-bread sandwich containing marinated meat that has been sliced from a rotating spit and bundled together with salad and a yoghurt-based sauce. It's de rigueur in Istanbul to equip yourself with a weighty doner and then wander around Sultanahmet or along the Bosphorus.

4. STEAMED DUMPLINGS IN SHANGHAI, CHINA

Shanghai dumplings have to be tasted to be believed and they are one of the items most fought over during dim-sum feasts. These delicious morsels seem like ordinary dough balls until you discover that they are filled with a hot broth flavored with ground pork, crab meat or vegetables. This little surprise is achieved by filling the dumplings with a hardened gelatin that liquefies when the bun is steamed. To avoid scalding your gums with hot soup, do not crunch the dumpling between your teeth but instead nibble it until the liquid seeps out.

5. FEIJOADA IN RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Taste buds stage their own carnival in honor of Brazil's national lunch, feijoada, a dark and spicy stew built upon a foundation of black beans and pork. Be aware that the feijoada prepared for mass consumption in Rio's restaurants usually just contains pared-down pieces of pig flesh, but it may also contain less familiar porcine treats such as ears, tongues and those cute curly tails. Also note that this hearty recipe is a challenge for any stomach to digest, so plan on hitting a couch rather than the waters off Ipanema after eating it.

6. GUMBO IN NEW ORLEANS, USA

Scooping out a steaming pot of gumbo is as central to life in New Orleans as listening to jazz, zydeco or swamp blues, or chomping on those sugary pastries called beignets. This Louisiana favorite is essentially a hearty broth of seafood or smoked meats, thickened with okra or a wheat-and-fat mixture called roux, which is then splashed over a mountain of rice. But New Orleans serves up countless variations of the basic gumbo recipe, from classic Creole style to pungent Cajun.

7. COUSCOUS IN CASABLANCA, MOROCCO

The minute you arrive in Casablanca, make straight for Boulevard de la Corniche down on the waterfront, pick an appealing cafe or restaurant and order a cup of mint tea and a plate of Morocco's staple food, couscous. The couscous grain is made from semolina (ground durum wheat) and is ideally prepared by being repeatedly steamed in a special pot called a couscoussier. It's then topped with a spicy stew containing either vegetables or a mixture of veggies and meat such as chicken, lamb and fish.

8. NASI GORENG IN PENANG, MALAYSIA

Visitors to Malaysia inevitably find themselves ordering the delightfully simple nasi goreng. Literally meaning 'fried rice' and also enjoyed across Indonesia and Singapore, this dish is prepared by stir-frying rice with chicken or seafood, vegetables, eggs and a sweetish soy sauce. Nasi goreng is available practically anywhere in Malaysia that serves food but is best sampled within the wonderfully crowded hawker centers that dot the island of Penang. The diverse Malay, Chinese, Indian and Baba-Nonya cooking styles conspire to give an otherwise humble dish some special flavors.

9. CURRY IN MUMBAI, INDIA

Curries are a pan-Asian phenomenon, being cooked almost everywhere between the Punjab and Japan. But the birthplace of curry is India, and you haven't really tasted one until you've come to Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra and delighted your palate with one of the local concoctions. A Mumbai curry typically contains seafood and coconut blended with a masala (mixture of spices). Standard spices include turmeric, coriander, ginger and red chilli.

10. HOT DOG IN NEW YORK CITY, USA

So what if NYC has one of the greatest varieties of dining options in the world? Everyone knows the only truly meaningful foodie ritual here is to head to a busy inner-city intersection, find a shabby metal cart topped by colorful a umbrella, and order a dog with ketchup, mustard, onions and either sauerkraut, relish or chilli sauce. For a bit more of a challenge, head to Nathan's on Coney Island on 4 July and enter the famous hot-dog-eating contest: the record is 53.5 dogs in 12 minutes.

Reuters


http://www.theage.com.au/travel/worlds-top-10-iconic-meals-20100506-uf5x.html
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 10:03 pm
@msolga,
(Ah, nostalgia! Smile ) One of the best eating experiences I can recall (& I hope to recall more, later!) was in the early 1980s. Sitting on the pier in Bergen, Norway, in high summer

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e3/Bergen_panoramic_photograph_taken_from_Fl%C3%B8yen_mountain.jpg/750px-Bergen_panoramic_photograph_taken_from_Fl%C3%B8yen_mountain.jpg

... & eating freshly-caught prawns from the boats. Fresh, delicious, possibly the best I'd ever tasted till then!

I had just left England where I’d been staying with friends. Took the ferry from Dover to France & was caught up with the possibilities of my Eurail travel card. The first time I’d ever traveled alone. The world was my oyster! Very Happy

I would have to say that the vilest meal I ever encountered (or at least the aftermath of it!) was on the last night in Ubud, Bali, on one of many trips there (& to Java) over the years. I guess I was feeling over-confident, or something, but just this once ignored the good advice of Lonely Planet & every other travel guide book going. I ate a raw salad. A very delicious raw salad. From what I believed was a “trusted” source " the place where we’d stayed on every Ubud visit, where we often breakfasted & snacked, in between meals in the township. Erk. The troubles started at the airport as we were leaving. Stomach cramps & many, many urgent toilet visits. Then, as my troubles showed no sign of subsiding, after 3 days of returning home, I dragged my (by this stage) absolutely wretched & almost whimpering self to a doctor. Luckily for me he’d had experience in Asia & knew all about intestinal parasites & how to treat them. Because that’s what I had. Shocked I think this is just about the sickest & crappiest I’ve felt in my life. And yes, I did learn my lesson about what to eat & not eat while traveling after that!
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 10:09 pm
@msolga,
I think I got a wee bit carried away (above)! Smile

Your favourite & least favourite meal accounts do not have to be half as convoluted, OK? Wink
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 10:38 pm
@msolga,
The worst, every meal I've ingested while travelling economy. One of the best meals ever was when I got kicked up to first class and switched to JAL from my usual carrier, which kind of defies logic, it was an airline meal after all.

I had had meals in FC on my usual carrier, really, not all that much better than economy.

But it got me to wondering; how could JAL do such great FC meals [agreed, one does not mean always] while my UC could serve such crap meals.

Best on the land meals, hands down, the ones you get in Japan. The ones that are described by Tristram Stuart in his book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal . The ones that last for hours and have so many dishes you can't keep track. The ones where you feel pleasantly satisfied, not stuffed. The ones where every mouthful is almost orgasmic.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 10:58 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
The worst, every meal I've ingested while travelling economy.


Ah yes. Economy Class, JTT. I know all about Economy class. The only way I ever traveled. (We call it "cattle class" in Oz. But then we often have to fly for long distances in these cramped conditions, to get from A to B) The thing that keeps you eating (when you really should know better) is sheer boredom. When will this be over? Do you have any particular Economy Class tidbit that stands out from the others? Wink

Quote:
Best on the land meals, hands down, the ones you get in Japan. The ones that are described by Tristram Stuart in his book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal . The ones that last for hours and have so many dishes you can't keep track. The ones where you feel pleasantly satisfied, not stuffed. The ones where every mouthful is almost orgasmic.


I know very little about Japanese food, apart from the ubiquitous "sushi bars" in Oz. I've never been there. Apart from uncovering the global food scandal, could you give us an example of a Japanese meal you really enjoyed. Of the "orgasmic" variety? I'm interested.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 11:15 pm
@msolga,
Quote:
Do you have any particular Economy Class tidbit that stands out from the others?


The flight from hell.

Regular flight, Narita to Seattle, fog, rerouted to Vancouver, sat on the tarmac for 2 hours, back to SeaTac for a window, window closes, on to MSP, run to the counter, leaving my bags; clerk says he can get me to my original with a stop in each of the remaining contiguous 48 states before I get to my destination, all in the time remaining in the day. I say, no thanks, get me a hotel room like right now, store my luggage and get it to me at my original destination within a month.

Quote:
could you give us an example of a Japanese meal you really enjoyed. Of the "orgasmic" variety? I'm interested.


I don't think it would help you much, MsO, even if I could remember all the names of the dishes, I can't, 'cause you wouldn't know what they were anyhoo.

msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 11:20 pm
@JTT,
OK, then. Thanks.

Now, food ... we gotta get back to food.
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 04:12 am
@msolga,
My best memories of food while traveling are the pies and tacos I ate on the island of Ylapa of the west coast of Mexico. There were no roads on the island - so no cars or even bicycles. Everyone traveled by foot or on horseback. There was one 'hotel' which consisted of little one room cabins. There was a generator that provided electricity from 8-11 pm at night. There was one 'restaurant'. It was one of the cabins right out on the beach.

They made the most delicious tacos - just beans, rice and vegetables in a tortilla. You could have beer, fresh squeezed orange juice or coke to drink. The orange juice was incredible- so was the beer Laughing but again, this orange juice was like no other orange juice I've ever tasted before or since.
The fruits in general were so wonderful - an apple in Mexico was different and more 'apple-y' perfect than any other apple I've ever had before or since.

There was a pie lady who walked up and down the beach with a tray on her head on which she had slices of banana and coconut pie. Again - I've never tasted banana or coconut pie as delicious as that before or since.

I also had some wonderful, wonderful chana masala (chick pea curry), lentil dahl and cauliflower and chick pea curry (made with peanut butter?! Laughing ) that was so delicious I've been searching high and low to try to replicate that experience somewhere else. That was from the kitchen of the prison I work at!
I also have really loved the food I've had in Miami and the keys. I love cuban food- anything with beans and rice- and the seafood is wonderful down there.

then of course there's lobster and corn on the cob up in Maine. AND clam chowder!

I can't remember any totally horrible meals that ever left me shuddering. I have a pretty tolerant and broadly accepting palate. If I don't like something, I don't eat it - but that's so rare as to leave me saying in all honesty - I don't think I've ever ordered something I couldn't eat. But again - I don't generally order anything except fruit, vegetables and grains in meals- so what could be disgusting about those?
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 04:59 am
@aidan,
Good post, aidan. It sounds like every form of food or drink in Mexico was better than anywhere else! Smile
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 09:32 am
I've been to Ylapa!

We ate shrimp we bought from a guy cooking it in a big kettle on the beach. I think it was more the experience than the food that made it unforgetable.

I think my favorite meal was at The Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans. Mr. B (long before he was Mr. B) and I ran away to NO for a weekend and had a heavenly meal on their divine patio. Amazing.

Second best was also in NO at, I think, Petunias -- soft shell crab and a plate of fried okra.

I'd weigh 500 pounds if I lived in NO.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 09:55 am
The worst meal while travelling was perhaps in Versailles, France: we looked for something different and I noticed a pizzeria which seemed to loved by locals. And it was, indeed, as I noticed when talking to some inside (it was crowded, and this nice couple, teachers, helped to get a table).
But it was the worst "Italian" food I'd ever got. (The best was in Rome, last year, in the San Lorenzo quarter.)

Recently, just two weeks ago, I had a really good meal (excellent price-quality relation as well!) in the restaurant of the Casino in Granville, Brittany.
It wasn't really exquisite besides, perhaps, that it was the first time in all my life that I had to show my ID-card before being able to get a table: you had to go through the casino to get to the restaurant ...

CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 09:55 am
I have eaten so many good meals on my travels - mainly due to being adventurous with local cuisines. I have eaten the best shrimp dish in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia); it was very spicy but at the same time mild. A special coconut sauce made it tolerable to the palate. I tried in vain to duplicate that recipe but never succeeded.

That restaurant was a hole in the wall and not something one would enter
as a tourist and I remember being apprehensive at first, but maaaaan their
food was excellent.

The worst food I probably had was an "Italian" restaurant somewhere in
Missouri while driving cross country. We thought you can't go wrong with
spaghetti & meat sauce, but boy were we wrong. I don't even want to think
about it, that's how bad it was.
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 12:31 am
@boomerang,
Quote:
I think it was more the experience than the food that made it unforgetable.


I know what you mean, boomerang. An unforgettable place can make really good food exquisite! Smile

Your comment reminded me of the first time my then-partner and I stumbled upon the most perfect , tiny little vegetarian eatery at the tail end of a very long walk in the country-side surrounding Ubud, in Bali ... on the side of the road, just off the Monkey Forest Road, there was an insignificant sign saying "vegetarian food". (we were both vegetarian then.) We were so hot & bothered after our long walk that we thought: why not? Well, were we in for a treat! We had to follow a tiny track through rice fields, which eventually lead to a small thatched-roofed structure. The cafe. There was only one big, low table, With lots of cushions to sit on, on the floor. But the view! As far as the eye could see, it was like this:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3256/3230749505_aa28f91d08.jpg

We looked at each other & both laughed. This was AMAZING! Nothing as perfect as this could possibly exist! A bit of heaven on earth.
But then the food! First, a really cold bottle of Bintang beer with the most delicious nuts I think I've ever tasted. Then, a simple, lightly spiced dal-like dish, accompanied by the most fabulous dish of local greens, on the tastiest rice I've ever tasted. Simplicity itself, but someone in that place could certainly cook!

On a number of return visits to Ubud, we made a point of returning to that little place, again & again . We were never disappointed. The most exquisite food in the most magical setting. Funny thing, we were the only people there, on each visit. I guess that made it rather more special, too.

I haven't been back to Bali (which to me is Ubud) for years. I wonder of that little cafe is till there?
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 12:43 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
The worst meal while travelling was perhaps in Versailles, France: we looked for something different and I noticed a pizzeria which seemed to loved by locals. And it was, indeed, as I noticed when talking to some inside (it was crowded, and this nice couple, teachers, helped to get a table).
But it was the worst "Italian" food I'd ever got. (The best was in Rome, last year, in the San Lorenzo quarter.)


Well there ya go, Walter!
When traveling, eat local. Always. Smile
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 12:53 am
@CalamityJane,
Quote:
I have eaten so many good meals on my travels - mainly due to being adventurous with local cuisines.


Good for you, Jane! In my humble opinion, the best way to go when traveling! Very Happy

Quote:
The worst food I probably had was an "Italian" restaurant somewhere in
Missouri while driving cross country. We thought you can't go wrong with
spaghetti & meat sauce, but boy were we wrong. I don't even want to think
about it, that's how bad it was.


Which leads me to wonder: if one was determined to "eat local" in Missouri, what would one be advised to eat?
0 Replies
 
margo
 
  2  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 01:25 am
Good topic, MsOlga..

One of my most memorable meals was in Carcassonne, in south-western France.

I was travelling with my then boyfriend, who had been there before, and I knew nothing about it. I was tired and sick of travelling, as we were travelling almost every day (this was before I put the 3-day rule in place - only move every 3 days, unless necessary)

He made me close my eyes as we walked around a corner - and when I opened them, the old mediaeval walled town of Carcassonne was right there before us. I didn't even know it existed.

We roamed around there for the afternoon, which made me even tireder - and then went back to the hotel. I didn't want to go out to dinner, but he insisted and we went to a restaurant that looked nothing, just a few doors from the hotel (these feet were no longer made for walking!).

There I had my first cassoulet ever, the most wonderful dish - a real standout. I can't remember now exactly what was in it- (this was 25+ years ago) some combination of duck and pork and beans, and... but I still remember the excitement at eating something so wonderful. I've never had such a good cassoulet since, and haven't been able to reproduce it myself. I haven't yet been back to Carcassonne, but it's certainly on my list.

Worst meal - I've had some crook ones, but nothing particularly stands out!

I do recall misreading a menu in Paris once, and getting brains instead of the lamb I expected. My gut just rebelled and I couldn't eat a thing.
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 02:28 am
@msolga,
Thanks msolga. I always do prefer to eat outside if at all possible- and I do love Mexican food, music, people, etc. But truly, the fruit is different in Mexico - the flavors more pronounced and unspoiled, no preservatives or wax to make it look more appealing - naturally ripened - it tastes like fruit is supposed to taste.

Ylapa is like a little part of the world that time has forgotten. If you want to leave the beach and take a walk, you can eat here: http://www.puertovallartatours.net/images/yelapa/new/waterfall.jpg

which is right beside this waterfall:http://static.wix.com/media/060374a77583614c15353172c58dab95.wix_mp

Sounds a little like the restaurant you went to in Bali. It's only for dinner, you have the rock next to the waterfall to yourself and it's entirely lit by candles. It is very magical.
And yeah - I couldn't begin to tell you what I ate that night, so in that sense it is more about the atmosphere.

But out on the beach when I was hot and thirsty and hungry, I can remember exactly what I ate and how good it was.

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 12:33 pm
@msolga,
The most delectable meal while traveling was one of the simplest - on my first trip to Italy.

http://www.fattoriamontagliari.com/
(I see it has added buildings since we were there - and they have 8 rooms to stay there now)

It was a chilly day in March and we pulled in to the Montagliari vineyard to check out the trattoria. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace..
I had mineral water, a very good lasagna (I think with balsamella and veal), a glass of delicious chianti, a torta de mele (which I tried to reproduce for years and then finally found the recipe online), an espresso.

recipe: http://able2know.org/topic/78049-1#post-2114544 (from divinacucina.com)


I'll have to think about the absolute worst..
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 01:08 pm
@ossobuco,
Another best were two afternoon meals at Le Sorelle Picchi in Parma, Italy. One day we splurged for an appetizer of the local felino salami and culatello di zibello, a melt in your mouth prosciutto, this being Parma after all, and then I had chicche della nonna con gorgonzola (green briquettes with sauce, better than they sound.) (I see by my notes I had a glass of lambrusco, not my favorite wine, but I know some lambrusco is great). Next day, same place, about the same time, and I had tortelli di zucca - pasta envelopes with squash filling - and vitel tonno, veal with tuna sauce. Probably had a white wine that day, but didn't write it down.

Other Parma treasures were the real slices of parmigiano cheese, some olives, and some cioccolatini we picked up during various walks.

Majorly happy, me, having prosciutto and parmigiano at the source... I was practically squealing.

map and reviews --
http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=le+sorelle+picchi+Parma&fb=1&gl=us&hq=le+sorelle+picchi&hnear=Parma&cid=16648980453119977459
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 31 May, 2010 01:44 pm
Olga, The best for me was also in Norway. Can't remember whether it was Bergen or Oslo.

Took a cable car to the top of a mountain--above the clouds. The sky was azure. The air crisp. We ate outside. I ordered whole lobster, cold. It arrived in a silver service. The mayonnaise dressing was rich and freshly made. The lobster was tender and divine. The salad was super fresh and lightly dressed.

After I finished half the lobster (I was a little disappointed that it wasn't whole), the waiter cleared off the table and brought out the second half--new silver, more salad. More everything. No mess. No shell. A total dining experience.

This meal stands out in my mind above all others. I used to eat in lots of fancy shmancy places all over the US. (Expense account.) Lots of wonderful food, but not such a total dining experience.

The worst meal? Also Norway. Went to a little local place. No English on the menu. Pointed to something. It arrived. Looked horrible. Smelled horrible. One bite. Couldn't swallow it. Never found out what it was.

Best breakfasts--day after day without fail. Copenhagen. Eggs, cheese, breads--and PASTRY.

0 Replies
 
 

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