Food has always motivated me to explore – one of my earliest memories of wanting to travel was because I wanted to know how different tropical fruits tasted from the ones at my local supermarket. Since then I have traveled around searching for interesting new foods to try, and I have tasted some amazing things – from grasshoppers in Mexico to nasi goreng in Bali, bone marrow to squid ink linguine, street food to molecular gastronomic fine dining. I still have an eating bucket list taller than I am of places to visit, and so many amazing, delicious and interesting foods yet to try.
I want to ask you.. what foods are you just dying to taste authentically? What flavors really drive you to hop on that next plane? share it, comment to me, blog about it.. however you like! In the mean time – here are some from my own ‘eating bucket list’
Eating Bucket List Item #1 Hainanese chicken rice
The first time I heard about this legendary chicken rice was on an episode of ‘no reservations’ (If you haven’t seen this yet – get onto it! Bourdain is a genius). Since then it has re-appeared in my life over, and over – what could be so special about it? It’s just chicken.. with rice, admittedly a rather satisfying combo, but it doesn’t leave much room for the imagination. Well, it sounds like I couldn’t get further from the truth – there are all sorts of top secret spices and techniques at play here, including plunging the blanched whole chicken into ice water in some complex maneuver that separates the fat into a gel-layer between the meat and the skin, and re-using stocks to create a richer, oilier, meatier chicken. This is a cult dish..
found in restaurants and by street hawkers a like throughout China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and even as far afield as Thailand and Vietnam. This dish makes my must-try list out of sheer curiosity.. how do you make something so simple, into something so popular and highly recommended – I can’t wait to get there and find out for myself!
Eating Bucket List Item #2 Real Sushi in Japan
Sushi isn’t a rarity these days – here in New Zealand you can find sushi on most streets, and in every shopping mall food court. I used to always believe that I disliked sushi, and had no real interest in it. The rice too bland, the nori too sea-weed-like, I found either the flavour was either too dull or too intense. Over a long and slow process, this has all changed. It began a few years ago when an old house mate of mine made his own sushi, I gave it a try – although it wasn’t instantly the most delicious thing I had ever tried, it was certainly an improvement on all of my past experiences; as it turns out, using a better quality and fresh nori creates a sushi that I no longer wish to spit out. Since then, I have been to Japanese restaurants and sampled many tasty things: tuna sashimi, softshell crabs, beef tataki, and of course tasty sushi that no bears no resemblance to my first few attempts at this skillful dish. It’s really piqued my interest in Japanese cuisine – I have become fascinated and would love to visit Japan to give some authentic rolls and dishes a try.
Eating Bucket List Item #3 Queso Helado, Peru
I am a dessert fanatic – anything sweet and I am in. I crave sugar in the middle of the night, during the day, and yes – even for breakfast. I love Latin American desserts, and when I was in Mexico you could see me stalking down the nearest ice cream stand or waving for an ice cream truck at least once a day, if not more. I fell in love with the interesting flavours there, burnt milk was delicious, I adored the marshmallow-y pinkness of pine nut flavour, and it was hard to keep me away from the sweet, nutty and almost gritty walnut ice cream.
I am yet to make it as far south as Peru, or anywhere in South America – but it is certainly up the top of my must-visit list, so it comes as no shock that when I heard about this frozen Peruvian dessert, I decided that I simply MUST try it. Queso is Spanish for cheese (another of my favourite things!), although this dessert is not actually made of cheese, the name comes from the ‘sliced cheese’ look that the dish takes on when it is traditionally prepared. In fact, it is not much like a cheese at all, it is far more like a semifreddo, without as much richness. It is made from at least 3 different kinds of milk, with a touch of coconut or cinnamon, and street vendors often serve it like a shaved ice.
I have so many more things to try – my bucket list seems endless! But those were three of mine – I would love to hear other peoples renditions, and to get some new suggestions to add to my own list! Have you tried any of the foods I just mentioned? Would you recommend them? Where is the best place to try them? Let me know what’s on your eating bucket list!