I’m a foodie. Enough said. And yes I have the thighs to prove it. I’m under no illusion that I am ever going to be some Kate Moss waif like character. No matter how many diets I go on – and yes I’m technically on one now – I always fall off the wagon because I just like food too much. Granted at the moment I do need to lose the ‘quake weight’, but that doesn’t stop me from salivating over images of food, recipes and others bloggers stories of the weird, the wonderful and the downright delicious.
So, as I am a glutton for punishment, this got me thinking about what my favourite foods from around the world are. I’ve eaten my way around a few places now so what hits the top of my list for must try things.
Firstly, and only because I just read a blog about one recently, let’s look at France. My god what is there not to like food wise in this country? Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissant – not a Danish like they call them in New Zealand) has to be right up there and probably the first thing I will be stopping off for next time I’m in Paris. Add to that a Chocolat Chaud (hot chocolate) and it’s pretty much a match made in heaven. But wait, let’s not forget Crêpes (the famous French pancakes), Moules Marinière (mussels cooked with white wine & onions) with a fresh baguette, pate, and finally Croque Monsieur – a totally delicious ham and cheese toasted sandwich. I can’t explain it properly so just have one – there’s also Croque Madam which has an egg on top too. Drinks wise it would have to be a Kir Royal (Champagne with Crème de Cassis – blackcurrant liqueur), French wine in general and Orangina (remember to shake the bottle to wake the taste as the advert says!)
Next stop England. There’s not really that many things that I would say are spectacular food wise in the UK, but having not lived there for 7 years now, there are definitely things that I miss. Marks & Spencer’s Taramasalata and Pitta Bread is something I find myself craving a lot. It’s a Greek fish dip made from fish roe (eggs) and is pale pink in colour. The reason that I love the M&S one especially is that is has a beautiful smooth consistency and isn’t too fishy smelling like a lot of other ones from supermarkets. I also miss going to a country pub on a summer’s day and having a Ploughman’s Lunch. They don’t really eat Branston Pickle over here in New Zealand and it’s both hard to find and bloody expensive. Plus it isn’t quite the same as having a ploughman’s with the fresh bread, proper mature cheddar cheese and other pickles and salad bits too.Along the same lines I miss pork pies. Again you can’t get them in New Zealand – they find the idea of eating a cold pie just weird. I used to love eating mine with a squirt of ketchup or some Branston Pickle on top. Sweets wise I miss Rowntree’s Fruit Gums – I love that they are so chewy they stick your teeth together – warning: probably not a great idea for those of you with fillings! Luckily I don’t have any so can stick away to my heart’s content. Drinks wise the only thing I really miss is a nice Pimms on a summers afternoon. Yes we do get Pimms over in New Zealand but I refuse to pay $50 for a bottle when I could buy it for about 8 pounds in the UK.
I lived in South Korea for 2 years, and was particularly terrified of most of the food there. I just had no idea what the hell most of it was, and as I’m prone to getting a dose of dodgy tummy syndrome, I tended to avoid anything ‘foreign’ looking. With the help of a few locals and friends who were a damn lot more adventurous than me, I did try things eventually and this is what I love and miss. SamGyeopSal (삼겹살) – the literal translation is 3 layered flesh – is a type of pork, sort of like bacon. In Korean restaurants you’ll find that most tables have built in grills to cook the meat. You buy whatever quantity you want to eat – the number of ‘rashers’ to make it easier – and then the restaurant supplies you with additional side dishes, including lettuce, yummy pasta salads, sliced garlic, kimchi (Korean cabbage which I hated), and other bits and bobs like sauces for free. My favourite memories from Korea are usually from one of these restaurants, where other foreign teachers and I would go before or after the bars (it was a great cure for a hangover), people’s birthdays/leaving parties or just for a general gossip and catch up. My other favourite food was Hotteok (호떡) a traditional street vendor food. They are Korean pancakes, and I especially loved the sweet ones that were made from pumpkin or sweet potato. Drink wise – well you can’t go to Korea and not try their national drink, Soju (소주). Traditionally made from rice, these days it’s often made from potatoes and is kind of like sweet potato vodka, but not as strong normal vodka though, at only around 20% proof. However, beware of the hangover, as it’s easy to drink too much – especially when accompanied with SamGyeopSal. Each region in South Korea makes their own soju so you’ll find that it does taste different depending on where you are. It costs roughly 1000-3000 Korean Won (USD$1-3) for a bottle which is usually 300ml.
Although it’s been a while since I was there now, I will always remember the amazing food I had in India. Beautiful curries that concentrated more on the unique flavours than the spiciness of them. When in Goa, I especially loved the amount of fresh seafood that was used in the food. The naan breads were amazing as well. So fresh and the bread literally melted in your mouth. My favourite drink would definitely have to be a lassi. They came in all flavours but I did especially love the most popular variety, a mango lassi. It was a really refreshing way to finish off a meal. One of my favourite memories however, will always be lying in a hammock on the beach in Goa, drinking milky coffees and eating fresh toasted sandwiches that the local bar had made us. I think those kept me going for lunch for about 3 weeks. I never got bored of it. I think the view and the company of friends and other travellers we met though also went a long way to being right up there as one of the great memories on my round the world trip.
And finally I can’t write a list of food without mentioning some of the yummy things we have here in New Zealand. My all-time favourite thing in the world is ice cream and more specifically Hokey Pokey ice cream, a flavour which you can only really get in New Zealand. There are some out there in the world that pretend to be the real deal but nothing beats Tip Top’s Hokey Pokey. In a nutshell it’s vanilla ice cream with honeycomb pieces in. The honeycomb flavours the vanilla though and the reason Tip Top is the best is that honeycomb pieces still remain crunchy. It’s the first thing that I want after getting off the plane, and a trip to the dairy is always requested on the way home from the airport. It’s seen me through the best, the worst and the humdrum of times. My favourite is a big bowl with hundreds and thousands sprinkled over it! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Now I can’t talk about New Zealand and not mention lamb – the kiwis are famous for it. It’s sold everywhere around the world and is quite simply delicious. My favourite is a good old kiwi roast lamb with lots of roasted veggies and tons of gravy or mint sauce. Now the next one is still a controversial issues amongst the kiwis and the aussies – Pavalova. Both claim that they were the first to invent it, but of course it was the kiwis 🙂 It’s a merainge base with whipped cream and fresh fruit cut on top of it. Absolutely delicious but definitely likely to cause a trip to the dentist to get fillings for the sugar holes! The list I can think of is endless so here are just a few others for now – freshly caught Marlborough blue cod or snapper. We go up there every year in summer and there’s nothing better than eating what you’ve caught just hours or sometimes minutes before. Green lipped mussels have to be up there too – they are HUGE in comparison to those used in France for example. A great way to eat them and one of my favs is to steam them open and then grill them in one side of the shell with cheese and garlic butter, or pesto and feta, or bacon and cheese, or anything really sprinkled on top. Sweet things wise you have to try Tim Tams – the great kiwi choccie biscuit. Also Pineapple Lumps, Whittaker’s Chocolate or Peanut Slabs, and Jaffas. A very kiwi drink is L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) – made by combining lemon juice with carbonated mineral water from the town of Paeroa and world famous in New Zealand. Try mixing it with vodka and a squeeze of lime too.
So that’s my list for the time being. Hope you enjoyed this little gastronomic journey.