Countries I Have Been to With The Best Food So Far


Countries I Have Been To With The Best Food So Far

“I was at this restaurant. The sign said “Breakfast Anytime.”So I ordered French toast n the Renaissance.” Steven Wright

My food experience when I am traveling totally impacts the experience I have  in the country. Sometimes I make trip destinations  based on food. Other times, it is a complete surprise how much I love the food. Here are my favorite countries for food so far.

Japan applies the same precision to their food as they do to their engineering. You can get a lavish multicourse kaiseki meal that presents the seasons in a spread of visual and culinary poetry..

I dream of the sushi bars in Tsukiji market and the tofu restaurants where everything is made from tofu.  You can eat something random in a train station or risk your life and try Fugu (poisonous blowfish – delicious). I love yuzu and green tea desserts. Cold soba noodles is my go to Japanese lunch. 

It is impossible to eat badly in Japan.  This country is officially one of the best culinary destinations in the world. 

Spain has long been characterized by eat, drink, sleep, work a little bit, eat, drink, sleep. They munch on snacks throughout the day (tapas, pinxtos) with intervals of big meals. The food is different from the Mediterranean sea to the Pyrenees. 

Paella, churros and chocolate, gazpacho and anything from the Basque region (pinxto bars to Michelin starred restaurants)  show how much the Spanish love good food.It ranges from the Medieval Jamon Iberica  to the insane molecular gastronomy of Feran Adria and his followers.

The food is timeless and modern.

It’s impossible to write a short list of Turkish food. It is a combination of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine and any other conquering nations. It was a big surprise to me that Turkey turned out to be one of my favorite countries to eat in. Turkish food is about the freshest ingredients and technique. There are meze – small dishes that start the meal based on seasons and locale.

Some of my favorite foods are pide (boat shaped flatbread with fillings), pastirma (ancestor of pastrami), borek (small filled pastries),kabob, hummus, eggplant cooked many different ways, any dessert made from semolina, fresh halvah, pomegranate juice, fish cooked with olive oil and lemon, simit (Turkish bagels), ayram (drink made with yogurt ice and salt), fresh cheese ( beyaz peynir) and honey, kofta (meatballs), (mincemeat pizza) and just about anything  I have eaten in Turkey

I’m not even a huge fan of lamb but in Turkey it is delicious.

 The food in Israel is reason enough to visit the country. Israel is a young country, but its food goes back thousands of years. The cuisine is a melting pot of North Africa, Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and its Middle Eastern neighbors.

It is healthy and delicious. There is freshly made hummus with hot pita bread, falafel (made from fava beans or chick peas), tahini, schwarma, kebob, shakshouka, salads, and labneh,(yogurt cheese.)

The food tastes so much fresher than anything that I’ve eaten at home.  Israeli breakfast is one of the best things about Israel. It is usually served buffet style with an array of European, Israeli and Mediterranean dishes.- They are the biggest breakfast buffets I have ever seen.

This is the country that gave us pizza and cappuccino. Italy’s simple comfort food  has become the food of every country. Each region has specialties that they are very proud of. The best pizza is found in Naples and Spaghetti Bolognese does come from Bologna.  Parma ham and Parmesan cheese come from Parma. Olive oil is the only real Italian condiment.Wine and coffee vie for being the national drink. Freshness of Ingredients is very important to the Italians.. Dining in Italy is always a delight for your taste buds. 

 Olive Oil is the most Greek of all the Greek food.  A Greek salad is very simple with feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and olives. It will never taste the same  way here. I have it every day in Greece and it is always amazing. Greeks do it better. There are many high quality ingredients to choose from in Greece that we don’t seem to be able to recreate here. I have spent a few summers here and figs, honey, olives, lamb, seafood, fava beans, tiropita (cheese pastry), tzatziki  (yogurt dip) Avgolemono soup  (lemon chicken soup) and baklava are always delicious. 

I love seafood and except for Iceland, no one in Europe eats more of it, than the people of Portugal. If you love tuna and sea bass, this is the place. The national dish is bacalhau – dried, salted cod. The Portuguese have been obsessed with it since the early 16th century.  Sardines, mackerel, lobsters, shrimp, oysters and crabs are plentiful. The ‘arroz de marisco” is a delicious seafood rice.

Other national dishes are “cozido à portuguesa,” a thick stew of vegetables with various kinds of meat, “leitão assado” Roast suckling pig and tripe with beans. young Portuguese chefs are making a name for themselves with their more modern approach to the classics.  Pasteis de nata is my favorite dessert – Small custard tarts with cinnamon are found all over Portugal The most original recipe comes from Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon a pastelaria that dates back to 1837. I was lucky enough to go there.

Portuguese cheeses are delicious and should be more well-known and for a small country, they  produce a number of varieties of very good wine. 

Mexico is a go to country for delicious cuisine. There are  moles, tacos, tamales, enchiladas, guacamole, tostadas, flan and Mexican chocolate.

Lime and salt go with everything. 

You will not get bored with the food in this country. It is a fiesta in your mouth. 

Cambodian food is delicious and often overlooked but should not be. Insects are always on the menu in Cambodia. Beef with red tree ants should not be missed.

Tarantula and deep-fried scorpion are not my thing but you see a lot of people eating them. 

Fish amok is a fish mousse with fresh coconut milk, Khmer  spices, turmeric, garlic and ginger,

It is served in a banana leaf and is my favorite lunch with fresh coconut juice served in the coconut.

Khmer beef salad, Khmer noodles,  Khmer curry, fried crab and grilled squid are a must try in Cambodia. There is always rice. Try the pork and rice which is only served for breakfast. 

Street food is the attraction in Thailand. The complex  combination of spices and flavors  can  make your favorite dish be spicy, sour, salty, sweet, chewy, crunchy and slippery. With influences from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, ,Myanmar and a royal culinary tradition, Thai cuisine is the best of many worlds.. Thai coffee with condensed milk and mango with sticky  rice is my favorite dessert. The various curries, soups,  noodle dishes, rice and salads encompass the unique flavors of Thailand.

The food in Viet Nam is insanely good.Traditional Vietnamese food is all about the balance of fresh ingredients, intense flavors, and ease of cooking and preparation.

.Many of the dishes have  a rich history and represent a regional specialty.

The most famous street food is pho which is a bit different in the North and South.  It is rice noodles and slices of beef cooked in   a beef bone broth with complex flavors. It is the most popular food for breakfast and lunch.

Banh Mi is my favorite street food. This sandwich can also be traced back to the French colonial period, even through the roots of the name; Banh is pronounced similarly to the French word for bread, pain.Today the typical Vietnamese banh mi consists of mayonnaise, pate, sliced ham and pork, pickled vegetables, coriander, and hot sauce.

Fly safe,


Japanese Food

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Luciano Pavarotti

Japanese Food

You get free tofu refills  with the tofu dinner. The containers on the tofu bar hold steamed tofu.  After the steamed tofu course, you may add as much tofu to your tofu as you wish.

“Western food. Every damn plate is round”.

The truth about Kobe beef is that all wa gyu (Japanese beef) comes from Hyogo prefecture usually from Tajima. Tajima sells the beef all over the Japan. If they buy it in Kobe, it is Kobe beef.

Food is served so beautifully in Japan it is not uncommon to see even the Japanese taking pictures of the food.

They have Yoshinoya in Japan. It was the first thing I saw leaving the airport.

Okinawans are considered to be the longest living people in a country of long life. They attribute it to the Okinawan diet which includes many different kinds of seaweed , a bit of pork, spam  and taco rice ( from WWll)

Okinawan sayings include the phrase that Okinawan cuisine “begins with pig and ends with pig” and “every part of a pig can be eaten except its hooves and its oink.”[

Things to eat in Okinawa  are–mango pudding, purple potatoes, Chinese food (Okinawan  food is more influenced from Chinese food  than Japanese food), teriyaki squid on a stick, barbecued grasshopper legs, pork,  pigs feet, pig skin , pig ears, ,goya juice, sooki soba( pork spareribs with soba noodles in soup), Okinawan doughnuts ( deep fried balls of dough) and Mozuku seaweed (seaweed for a long life).

Hiroshima is famous for oysters and anago (salt water eel).  Unagi ( fresh water ell) is more common in the US. It is not to be confused with inago, whole locusts boiled in soy sauce and sugar.

In Japan they say Autumn is the time for art and eating.

Food is always seasonal. It is chestnut season now and they are served in some way at every meal. Red beans and chestnut sweets  taste just like red beans and chestnut. (chestnut sweets)

Japanese women are always on diets .

Blowfish ovaries and pig ears are surprisingly delicious until you find out what you are eating.

Fugu (blowfish) is a delicacy and speciality of the Kyushu islands. Because it is poisonous, you must have a special license to cook it. Every year a few dozen people are hospitalized. The few  fugu deaths each year are fishermen who try to prepare it themselves.   The ovaries and intestines must be removed and cooked without puncturing them. (I didn’t know until after)  We had an eight course fugu dinner (including ovaries and intestines they made a point of telling us that ). I am still here so the chef must have been licensed. It was the most amazing meal, I had on two trips of amazing meals.

Surprisingly, Japanese eat a lot of eggs as in raw, appetizers and egg sushi.

Yakitori  chicken (grilled on a skewer) is usually not the breast. It can be thighs, skin, liver etc – because all the parts of the chicken are used.

People in Osaka spend more money on food than anything else.

Okonomiyaki is kind of a cross between a pizza and a pancake. It is batter mixed with cabbage and fried with different toppings. Okonomi means “to one’s liking”.  Unlike pizza and pancakes, the usually filling is octopus, squid, pork, yams or kimchi. Or you can have whatever you want on it.  It is most common in Hiroshima and Osaka.

The food in Japan is so tasty that you can find a delicious meal in a train station.

It is considered bad manners in Japan to walk down the street eating or drinking. Hence Starbucks is always very crowded.

Japanese now drink more coffee than tea and they all drink “shorts” at starbucks, which have been discontinued in the states.

Jidori chicken is a delicacy of Kyushu. It is a muscular chicken because it is allowed to run free, which makes it rather chewy. ( free range – as we say)

In expensive supermarkets, they bag your groceries, in inexpensive supermarkets you do it yourself. Also the boxes we have at registers for signing and scanning are considered “”so old fashioned” in Japan.

Sake means sake but also liquor.

Anything can be made out of tofu.

Yellowtail is always frozen.

Japanese seaweed is sweeter than other seaweed. ( There are many different kinds of seaweed. –apparently even in nice restaurants in the U.S., we get the cheap stuff).

There are hundreds of different soy sauces and sakes.

The first night of Kaiseki dnner (eight courses) at the ryokan (Japanese hotel and hot springs) is amazing. The second night is delicious.  The third night is good. The fourth night, you are thinking pizza. (  These are the first  three of the eight courses .  They go from raw to cooked.  The green pickle looking thing is fresh wasabi that you grate onto your food)

The food department in a Japanese department store  is almost always in the basement and can be an attraction by itself due to the wide variety of Japanese delicacies, sweets, desserts and other food on display. The food department at Harrods in London is a boutique compared to some of the Japanese stores.

Pockys come in many flavors . Haagen Daz does seasonal ice creams in Japan. Kit  Kats come in seasonal flavors but the most popular is Green Tea.

Im not a fan of Japanese breakfasts . I like the food but just not for breakfast. To me , it looks alot like the same food we had for dinner but im not a detail person. I wouldn’t notice that the fish in the morning is grilled  or the pickled vegetables are different, or that there are different vegetables and proteins in the miso soup.  On top of that I need coffee in the morning not green tea. (Dont be confused by the eggs-they are raw)

If you are a fan of Japanese breakfasts, Tsukiji fishmarket for fresh sushi in Tokyo  is the way to go – the earlier the better, They open at five am.  I prefer coffee and toast and getting there at 10. Sushi before 10 am is rough for me.

Here is what i found out on my first trip to Japan. I like abalone steak, flounder, red snapper, squid and octopus sushi.  I love tofu dinners (eight courses of differently cooked fresh tofu).  I like tofu buffet dinners. (every kind of tofu imaginable). I don’t like foo, or the diet jelly stuff, or mackerel (dry raw or whole). I don’t like raw eggs in the morning with rice. I hate roe sushi (which is not what you think-unless you are thinking survivor food challenge)  I like green tea soba, green tea mochi and Japanese green tea ice cream ( not what we have here with no taste) I like Japanese desserts –especially black sesame ice cream.

I hate to admit this but i did not use chopsticks until my first trip to Japan.   I dont have great motor coordination and it seemed like a  a lot of work to get the food to your mouth.  I was probably the only American in the towns where the ryokans were.  The chance of getting a fork was going to be slim.    I practiced eating everything with chopsticks at home for two months .   My friends,  the waiters in the Japanese restaurants in LA and especially my Vietnamese manicurist urged me on.   When you set your mind to it, and ask for help when you need it,  you can do anything.

Also see

Things I Have Learned  In Tokyo and Japan

Things I Have Learned In Okinawa and Hiroshima

yo I sorano tabi o,