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If you were offered one free meal anywhere in the world...

If you were offered one free meal anywhere in the world...where would you go?

I saw an article recently where top chefs were posed this question, and their answers were mostly predictable. Grant Achatz went to Per Se to see what his former colleague Thomas Keller was up to. And I thought... Chowhounds could be more inventive that that! So here's your chance.

Where would you go? It should be about food. You shouldn't say, I'll eat at Treetops Lodge in Kenya because even if the food is horrible (it's not) I'll get to see wild animals out the window. And I don't think it should be about the money. You might pick a $350 meal at Masa, or you might also pick a perfect Shandong jian bing from an old street vendor in Shanghai, which costs about 50 cents.

If you really wanted, you could time travel, and see (and taste) as Vatel or CarĂªme did his best. Of course if you break some obscure rule of 17th century court etiquette and Louis XIV has you flung in a dungeon, don't blame us.

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  1. El Bulli -- just so that I can see what it's like. I'm much more likely to end up eating street food in Shanghai, though!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      You beat me on the El Bulli!! That is on my top TO DO list. The hype and nostalgia on it seems to be the most alluring elements to wanting to dine there (besides the amazing food!!). Yet Alinea in Chicago is calling my name...

      Yup...Alinea, and El Bulli.

      1. re: cocktailqueen77

        Yep. El Bulli. First thing that popped in my mind.

        That or that place in England with the word Duck in the name that does different thing with food.

        Anywhere in the US ... Frontera in Chicago.

      2. re: Ruth Lafler

        Me too. It seems very dificult to get reservations. We were planning to go to Spain last year to go to El Bulli to find out that they stopped taking reservations for the entire year. When I usually travel, I pick a place and plan the trip (restaurants, sights, hotel, etc) around the city/country. In El Bulli's case, I think I need to plan my entire trip around El Bulli.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          Yeah, they take reservations for the whole year sometime in the fall. You have to email or fax in a list of possible dates, and hope you get chosen. I seem to remember reading last year they had 400,000 requests for 8,000 slots (it's easier to get into Harvard!).

      3. I would have someone buy me doubles in Trinidad. It's been so many years since I lived there but I crave them very frequently.

        1. Billy Kwong in Sydney. Mix of traditional and inventive Chinese cooking with shockingly fresh and rich ingredients.

          However, I feel like this game calls for a pricey answer -- someplace I would not pay for myself -- so my alternative answer would be a full-blown kaiseki dinner, served in my room at a top-end ryokan in Japan.

          If plane fare is included in this game, then my answer reverts back to Billy Kwong.

          1. Pizza in Naples, Italy!
            CocoDan

            1. I would respond and say Urasawa right here in Los Angeles... primarily because one free meal probably won't include the transportation cost. It'd be really difficult to cash in a voucher at some place I'm not likely to visit in the near future.

              Other than that (and beyond the typical El Bulli or French Laundry answer), I'd probably say some villa in Tuscany, but I do like the game preserve idea of yours in Kenya. How about a beach-side cookout in Fiji?