In addition to travel, one of the finest pleasures in my life is food. Here are some of my most memorable food moments from around the globe.
Gyros in Athens
Though I’m now happily vegan, one of my fondest memories of my 2007 trip to Athens was sneaking off with my sister Marisa to buy french-fry stuffed gyros. Indeed, I haven’t had a gyro like it since (vegan circumstances notwithstanding).
Dim sum in Hong Kong
One of the best parts about living in Hong Kong were the dim sum nights I enjoyed with a dozen or so friends. There truly ain’t nothing like enjoying a bunch of tapas-style mystery plates, piled on plastic tablecloths so you can spit out bones and other stuff right on the table. Small disclaimer, however: real Chinese food isn’t for the faint of heart; once, we were served an entire fried pigeon – and my buddy ate the whole damn thing, eyeballs, brains and all. I believe I might have puked shortly afterwards.
Eating my way through Italy
Nearly all the meals I’ve had in Italy were so mind blowing/ mind numbing that I could write an entire book about them – but I’ll just list a few here:
Trying skate for the first time in Calabria, courtesy of my cousin, a seafood vendor
Enjoying a gargantuan pizza with my extended family in Gioiosa Ionica
Eating mushroom risotto in Rome, with a stunning backdrop view of the Colosseum
Every meal prepared by my aunt in Torino – including homemade pasta, fresh meat from my cousin’s butchershop (again, before my vegan days) and homemade cheese
Every meal prepared by my other aunt in Mammola, including fresh meat from my other cousin – also a butcher – fresh cheese, fresh bread and everything else you dream about in your wildest foodie fantasies.
Discovering yachae juk in Korea
Now when most of my students see me eating juk, they ask me if I’m sick. That’s because juk has traditionally been known as the kind of food you eat when you’ve got a cold – a la chicken soup back in America.
But I love it, all the time, anywhere. It’s my favourite local food – even if all the locals make fun of me for it.
Apple tea (elma cay) in Istanbul
Quick caveat – apple tea is not the official tea of Turkey, despite what most foreigners/ tourists are led to believe. Cay, the authentic Turkish tea, is much stronger in taste, and is brewed from leaves grown on the Black Sea coast.
That said, like a typical tourist, I kinda enjoyed the scammy apple version (#sorrynotsorry). Try it without shame when you’re in Instanbul.
Self-guided vegan food tour in Los Angeles
A few years ago, I died and went to vegan heaven in LA. Here’s a sampling of a few of my top picks from my fabulous trip:
Lucifers (vegan + gluten-free pizza)
Sage ( we sampled half the menu)
SunCafe (vegan nachos/ pad thai)
The Spot (vegan burger)
Real Food Daily (sea cake benedict)
Sigh. Why don’t I live in California, again?
Exploring Jalan Alor Hawkers Row in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
You can read more about my experience here (not a positive one, but memorable nonetheless).
Traditional tea house in Beijing
Apart from trekking the Great Wall of China, one of my favourite experiences in Beijing was watching a live dance performance at a traditional tea house. Add this to your must-see list when in China (and skip the roasted Peking duck – wasn’t as impressive, even during my meatatarian days).
Dolphin in Barbados
Now before you freak out – I didn’t actually eat Flipper in Barbados; dolphin is the term Bajans use for mahi-mahi, also known as dolphinfish and dorado elsewhere in the world. Long before my days of vegan yore, I tried it at Oistins Fish Fry – a popular local spot where you can gorge on fried food served in styrofoam boxes, chug on cheap beer and dance with locals to live music. Some other Bajan must-try dishes include flying fish, cou cou, breadfruit, and my former non-vegan fave – macaroni pie.
All the food in Bangkok
Despite having tried and delighted in spicy dishes from 30+ countries, the plates I tried in Thailand take the proverbial plate for spice factor. Local fried rice, red curry and tom yum soup were sometimes akin to eating lava. Not for the faint of
Sprout in Seoul
When I was depressed and undernourished in Korea, my buddy Gemma over at Fat Girl’s Food Guide to Eating in Korea rescued me from vegan death by introducing me to Sprout, a vegan food delivery service in Itaewon. I’ve enjoyed countless dishes on their menu, though their breakfast bowls and buddha bowls were my constant go-to’s.
Serendipity in Las Vegas
A few years back, I flew to Vegas for a marvellous week with my aunt, uncle and cousin Natasha, the bloggeuse behind Sheila’s Book Corner. On one of our last days, we shared a memorable breakfast complete with a cow-shaped milker, frozen hot chocolate, gigantic waffles and more sugary side order goodness. It ranks as one of the best, most decadent breakfasts I’ve ever had.
Luwak coffee plantation in Bali
In Indonesia, coffee cherries are fed to civets. Farmers then collect civet poop, and pick out the half- digested cherries. The cherries are then cleaned, ground and made into the most expensive coffee in the world.
I was reluctant to visit a luwak coffee plantation when I was in Bali, but was convinced that it would be a worthwhile pitstop on the way to Uluwatu by my charming cab driver. I was even more reluctant to try luwak coffee, but hey – when in Bali.
It was an interesting cultural experience, but one I wouldn’t soon recommend. Animal ethics aside, I couldn’t imagine dropping 80$ for a crappucino.
What are your favourite food moments from around the globe? Share your stories below!