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Favorite places you've lived outside the USA?

Purely from a food perspective...

Where did you most enjoy day-to-day food life outside the USA? And when did you live there?

Where would you most like to live (and eat) outside the USA if you could move there right now?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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  1. The time we lived in Belgium in the late 60's. The food was varied between the Flemish influence in the northwestern part and the French influenced cuisine in the southeastern part of Belgium. Brussels was the confluence of these cuisines and therefore it was a mecca of wonderful restaurants. Coming home after work, I always stopped at our favorite bakery and picked up a fresh loaf of bread. I also had a case of Stella delivered to the house once a week. Bread, fresh butter, Gouda cheese and a Stella caused me to gain weight but boy was it good. The food in Liege was different in some ways than Brussels because it was so close to the Arden hills and forests for fresh berries, mushrooms and wild game. We loved it!

    If I had the chance today and could afford it, I would move to Paris and enjoy the wonderful food opportunities in France. Having spent many times in Paris and the rest of France, there is still so much to taste and drink in France. I guess you could consider me a francophile in my tastes.

    4 Replies
    1. re: igorm

      I spent some time in the southern (Francophone) half of Belgium in the 80s. The food and beer were wonderful. Shopping in the weekly markets for fresh meats and vegetables were great. I still can recall the smell of the fresh gaufres in the streets. But I agree Paris would be the best of everything.

      1. re: igorm

        Live in France 3-4 months a year, the food is a major reason for that. Lived in Tokyo for three months a few years back, Tsukiji, the fish market was a big part of that choice as well.

        1. re: igorm

          Was Stella different back in the 60s? I have been wondering this for sometime... now I finally have someone to ask :)
          We went to Brussels last May and had absolutely amazing food, beer, and chocolate. Definitely an amazing food country. I absolutely adore Belgium beer, but not Stella (at least not the stuff the sell in the US; I didn't try it over there). It just seems so generic and mass produced... not like any of the other Belgium beers I have had.
          So I have been wondering if Stella used to be better and if they "sold out" to be more appealing to the British and Americans...

          1. re: lrealml

            I still drink it now and it tastes the same to me as in late 60's, still good!

          1. re: babette feasts

            I hav'nt had the pleasure of getting a visa to go there but i have heard it is a foodie's paradise.

            1. re: igorm

              I lived there (in the PRCB) from 1974 to 1987 with 2 years in Taipei during that time. Both fabulous places to live for food with the advantage Taipei for the full range of Chinese cuisines available...

          2. Right now I live in Northeast China. I don't know if it's my favorite place I've lived outside the USA from a food perspective, but what I do like is that by living here I've had to learn how to cook my favorite foods without the shortcuts we Americans are so used to (Powders, cans, jars, etc..)

            Also here in China I've had a chance to eat dogs, bugs, reptiles, amphibians, offal, all the types of things that make people back home (Berkeley/Greater S.F. Bay Area) cringe.

            Also, my Russian significant other has taught me how to make pickles and sauerkraut as well as a myriad of Russian comfort foods.

            I lived in Madrid for a year, but I found the food in Madrid wasn't as good as it was in other cities I visited like Toledo, Pamplona, Granada...

            I took a three week vacation in Northern Portugal and I'd say that was the best food I've had. Along the coast from Figueroa do Foz to Porto up the Duero River valley... almost everywhere I went had unbelievably fresh food, crisp, smooth wine. It was especially nice because I was on a budget, but I felt like I was really enjoying good stuff from bifanas to BBQ'ed sardines to a bean dish much like cocido madrilleana all of it great.

            23 Replies
            1. re: misterkot

              I'll venture a guess that you'll find plenty of people in Berkeley/Greater S.F. Bay Area who are more than willing to eat offal. Dogs? Probably not so much. Well, pit bulls maybe.

              1. re: linguafood

                I have never been to Berkeley, but I would be willing to bet that the residents on Berkeley would be much more likely to eat Sweetbreads than Tripe.

                1. re: DougRisk

                  We can all make assumptions based on nothing. Not that it serves any purpose.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Yes, it is an assumption. No, it is not base on nothing.

                    However, it was not meant as a put down of the people of Berkeley (if they are eating any offal, good for them), but more a comment on what has happened in the West over the last 50 years.

                    1. re: DougRisk

                      in San Francisco, we have a number of restaurants that focus on offal or at least have it on offer regularly, and I'm sure there are places in Berkeley too, and that Berkeley-ites make it out to San Francisco quite often. Besides, you're forgetting our Latino & Asian populations.....

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        Cosentino, in SF, I am quite familiar with...though, only from an outsiders POV.

                        However, when I make off-hand comments about offal, or almost any other food, I am rarely referring to them from a restaurant perspective...much more from the, "what do people want to eat at home".

                        And things like, well, Tripe are almost completely gone from the traditional America table. (There was a time when Tripe and Trotters was as common as Liver and Onions...which leads down another tangent).

                        So, while my comment was off-hand, I would be curious to know how common it is for someone in Berkeley to go to the Butcher/Market and get Tripe to bring home and stew up with some tomatoes (or in some other classic American preparation)

                        1. re: DougRisk

                          well, as i said, our Asian and Latino communities IN BERKELEY probably shop and cook just as you describe - not all of them, certainly, but i know it happens. If you're talking white Americans, probably not as much offal cooking going on at home on a regular basis - probably more something you'd "experiment" with, or go to a restaurant for (Incanto = Cosentino's restaurant, but there are others that do a head-to-tail menu.)

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            Tripe was on Chez Panisse menus occasionally waaaaay back in the day.

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              I wasn't referring to White Americans, and, you don't need to yell.

                              But, like I said, "...or in some other classic American preparation...". Granted, I am proud of anyone who eats Offal, but, I am still saddened to see that Tripe (and Trotters) are almost completely gone from the traditional American Home Table.

                              1. re: DougRisk

                                I eat tripe regularly and I cook it. Maybe where you live it's not common.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I eat tripe all the time. And saying that you eat it does not address the point that I was making at all.

                                  It was a very simple point, and never meant to offend anyone, nor should it have. And that point is this:

                                  Tripe is longer a common ingredient on the traditional American home dinner table. And that is a shame.

                                  That was all I was saying.

                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                    Was tripe ever "a common ingredient on the traditional American home dinner table"? I'm 64 and never had it growing up in the South. How long ago are we talking about. I wasn't offended. Just trying to clarify.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      (Philadelphia) Pepper Pot was popular in many parts of the country. It was said that you could find a woman on a corner serving it from a pot almost anywhere in any major city.

                                      George Washington, once, said it was his favorite dish. Tripe (and Tripe and Trotters) remained in almost all popular "Book of Receipts" (i.e. Cookbooks) well into the 20th century. However, I would not know which version of, say, the Joy of Cooking where references to it declined or disappeared all together.

                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                        >>(Philadelphia) Pepper Pot was popular in many parts of the country. It was said that you could find a woman on a corner serving it from a pot almost anywhere in any major city.<<

                                        I've been in LA all my life - nothing even remotely like that here - must have been before my time. With a strong Latino population though, menudo must by our version of Pepper Pot - but only on weekends.

                                      2. re: c oliver

                                        "I wasn't offended."

                                        I am curious. You said, "I eat tripe regularly and I cook it. Maybe where you live it's not common."

                                        So, it is commonly prepared in a Traditional American manner in your town? Or, just in your house?

                                        Because, that was the point that I had made a few times.

                                        1. re: DougRisk

                                          I've only used it in Latino and Asian dishes so I wasn't considering that "Traditional American." I just looked in my 1943 edition of Joy and she had five tripe recipes: broiled, fried, piquante, Spanish and stewed. Twelve recipes for sweetbreads but only three for pigs' feet. Just to add some perspective.

                                        2. re: c oliver

                                          Most Saturdays,Tripe was simmering on the stove at my neighbor's house when I was growing up. I guess that is where I learned to love the delectable little honeycomed morsels. I think it was very close to the "Trippa alla Romana that I often make now.

                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                            Yeah, I absolutely love the stuff.

                                    2. re: DougRisk

                                      i wasn't yelling. jeez, calm down. don't be afraid of capital letters.

                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        I never thought I got all that excited. In fact, I thought that I responded quite reasonably. Also, it is very common for all caps, on the web, to be interpreted as yelling.

                                        However, since you told me to, I will now be calming down.

                                        Better? Good.

                                  2. re: DougRisk

                                    I think it's the laborious prep for stuff like tripe and of course the unfamiliarity with it by the not-so ethnic communities as well. You'll see tripe and offal in general prepared in much of the ethnic communities because:

                                    1) It's a cultural, familiar and nostalagic food item for them.

                                    2) Many ethnic homes are still run by wives - not meaning that they're housewives - many work at least part time - but by culture, they are expected to spend time preparing dishes that take the time and labor as it's part and parcel of their culture.

                                    3) It can be inexpensive, but with the increasing demand for the other parts, I'm sure the prices are bound to rise if they haven't already.

                                    I'd give some time for offal to move into the homes of those pictured as Berkeley-ites. Like tofu, fish sauce and other once-exotic yuck items, once it's accepted at the eatery level, it eventually moves into the homes at large.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      When I made the offal comment, I was referring to my own personal friends and family in the Bay Area. Of course a lot of people eat all kinds of stuff there, MY people aren't eating dog and offal.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Hey Bula,
                                        I understand. But, one othe things I was trying to convey is...

                                        "It's a cultural, familiar and nostalagic food item for them."

                                        .. it used to be cultural, familiar and nostalgic for plain old Americans as well.

                        2. I lived in San Jose, Costa Rica in the early '90s and remember being desperate for any type of fresh vegetable. But there was coconut ice cream dipped in dark chocolate, breakfast of eggs with pico de gallo, tortillas, and natilla (sour cream),papaya and milk smoothies, arroz con leche, pozole...

                          I lived outside of Basel, Switzerland in the late nineties and had one of the most incredible food experiences of my life: gorgeous, full-fat blackberry (?) yogurt in a brown glass jar. Plus thin sheets of marzipan covered in dark chocolate. The dairy was incredible.

                          Now I am living in Hong Kong, and I don't know yet what I'll miss when we go. Roasted meats for sure. We had a wonderful Sichuan smoked duck recently that knocked my socks off. Dim sum, but specifically dumplings! But I love buns too. Buns with molten hot egg custard filling. And Chiu Chow food: oyster omelets, braised goose with shallots and vinegar...

                          But I miss bread. I really do. There are bakeries all over here, which have delicious treats. But they don't make *chewy*, crusty deliciousness the way they do in Europe (or even some cities in the US). I think about bread a lot...

                          But incidentally, speaking of Northern Chinese cuisine, I *loved* the street food I had in Beijing. Very earthy, strong flavors. And a Beijing pancake with soy milk is in the running, in my mind for one of the world's most perfect breakfasts...

                          But I am very interested in Portugal, would love to live-and-eat in France too.

                          Any others? Mediterranean countries? India?

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: chloehk

                            I lived in HK about ten years ago (seems impossible that it's been that long!!) and absolutely adored the food. I miss dim sum SO much (sniff sniff, waaaaah), and little dai pai dongs and noodle shops, and char siu, and egg waffles at the night market, and egg tarts, and ham-and-egg rice, and the creperie at the Peak, and Malaysian/Singaporean food, and big bowls of ramen for breakfast, and iced milk tea and and and...

                            1. re: chloehk

                              NOT Guatemala.

                              Costa Rica must have really changed since the 90's because I was amazed by the variety of produce available not only in the Central Market in San Jose, but even the ordinary suermarket. Here are my photos from a week or so ago. They had so many types of watermelon, including white, that I took a photo in the plain old Safeway type of supermarket.

                              In the photos below, I was focusing on the fruit, but there were lots of vegetables as well.

                              While my forray into San Jose, CR was only for two days, I was thinking if I had to live anywhere in Central America, that would be the place fore me.

                              As to Guatemala, let's say I'm more than ready to come home.

                              I will miss the tortillas immensely. No country Ive ever visited does them better. Also will miss just picked, dead ripe tropical fruit including many I've never heard of before. I'll miss a fruit called chico's a lot. Really nice French bread too. Good seafood and good checken or beef soup.

                              However, the lack of variety of regular produce, espeically tomatoes, is a pain. It is pretty much beets, cabbage, green beans, squash, potatoes, bad corn, onions, radishes, cucumbers, iceburg lettuce and carrots ... though the carrots are the sweetest and tastiest I've ever had.

                              Oh ... and the coffee stinks. Except in tourist areas it is mainly Nescafe. The good stuff gets exported for the most part. German food is pretty good though since the Germans started the coffee plantations and the cuisine has had an impact.

                              A big problem is the unwillingness of people to take a chance with something new. It is sort of like America in the 1950's. Actually, if you want to relive the 1970's without irony, down to the fern bars serving up drinks like white Russians and tequila sunrises ... come to Guatemala.

                              I "lived" in Mexico City a year and I loved it there food-wise, especially the tortas. They were a little limited on wine, but the grub was good. By lived, I mean I worked there Mon-Fri and commuted back for the weekends.

                              Tawain was ok for the 4-5 months I was there, but not really memorable to me. However, at that time I was hugely uneducated about Chinese food, so I might have missed a lot.

                              1. re: rworange

                                Que lastima that most Guatemalans are so impoverished that they don't get to enjoy their own arabica coffee - it is such a pleasant, mild variety, I love it, and it is so cheap by gringo standards- a few bucks for a kilo of great beans.

                                But godforsaken Guatemala is so poor, and is being overrun by narcotraffickers, because the law there is overwhelmed. So, so sad. A disaster in progress. As of last month, Guatemala has the highest murder rate in the world. So sad.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  The fault with the food isn't the poverty. The 1950's mindsent crosses all classes. There is just a real unwillingness to try anything not in the comfort range. By this time I can spot the restaurants that will close soon. Im willing to start a pool with how long the Egyptian place lasts which is in an Antigua minimual outside of tourist central.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    I remember too well all the Central American restos that first serve Nescafe and canned milk, and your eyes roll back. But then come the magical fruit plates and a delicious, almost photogenic breakfast. Go figure.

                                  2. re: Veggo

                                    I'm living in Antigua right now and last week I went to a presentation by the Consul General of Guatemala for US Citizens. She told us that the murder rate in Guatemala is the fourth highest in the world and only the second highest in Central America behind Honduras. Almost more shocking to me is that 96% of the murders are never prosecuted so the criminals know they can murder with impunity.

                                    Yes, law enforcement is overwhelmed, but they're overwhelmed because monies have been diverted from law enforcement to the pet projects of those who control the funds; the number of police, corrupt or not, is down more than 35%.

                                    Of even greater concern is that deaths from malnutrition among indigenous children is expected to increase considerably over the next few years as local Mayans continue to be evicted from fertile land and transported to land becoming desertized due to lack of water.

                                    I'm well aware that I'm in a fairly well-to-do area of Guatemala, but the abundance in the mercado not only of fruits and vegetables, but meat, chicken, and--to a lesser extent--fish is almost staggering. And it's not tourists who are shopping there. So there's food. It's just not getting where it's needed.

                                  3. re: rworange

                                    I've only been in Guatemala two weeks so far, but I'm having a very different experience from you. Perhaps it's because I'm doing my produce shopping in Antigua.

                                    I'm finding lovely tomatoes in the mercado, mostly plum but regular as well (although no hierloom) and all kinds of greens--many of which I haven't figured out yet. I bought some beautiful fava beans last Thursday and there's a huge variety of onions. Saw a selection of a few different kinds of mushrooms and some lovely shelled peas. And I don't know half of what I'm looking at. Totally agree with you about the corn, however. Cattle feed.

                                    I disagree, also, about the coffee. Bought a pound of already ground (don't have a grinder in my apartment) Tostaduria Buen Cafe and and I've been liking it every bit as much as some of the fancier coffees I buy back home at Fairway. Perhaps the reason the coffee stinks outside of tourist areas (although I'd hardly call the Paiz in downtown Guatemala City a tourist area) is that people there actually prefer Nescafe. Or think they do.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Didin't see greens or even plum tomatoes at the Antigua market today, but I did buy seven dfferent types of mangoes and it only took me an hour to get to the mercado from La Merced through the blocked Palm Sunday streets

                                      I read a while back that there has been an effort to interest Guatemalans in quality coffee which has resulted in places like Cafe Saul, & Cafe, Cafe Gitane, etc. Yes, there is more variety in the big cities, but that doesn't seem to be perculating elsewhere yet.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        And Guatemala coffee is SOOO good. It is baffling to me that is is not part of a morning routine everywhere in the country.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Yeah, I've already learned never to go to the market on the weekend. My teacher told me that the best selection with the smallest crowds is on Monday and Thursday, so those are now the only days I go. The market must have been a madhouse yesterday.

                                          Really, really surprised that you saw neither greens nor plum tomatoes. The market was loaded with both last Thursday.

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Part of the thing with coffee is preparation. It is so heavily sugarded that it may as well be anything. A friend who is a rare exception during my visit and open to trying new things, finally tried a decent brew without sugar and said politley "I need sugar:" after a few sips.

                                            It took me five years before I could drink coffee without sugar, so that is understandable.

                                            And prior to Nescafe, coffee was brewed in a pot for hours over an open fire. I had that once during my visit and the smoky taste permeating the coffee was one of the most memorable and wonderful tastes in my life. If it was cheapo beans, it didnt matter, the brewing changed it to a magical elixer.

                                            Yesterday was dead at the market with the fewest people I've ever seen. Everybody was either in front of the market on the street watching carpets being made or elsewhere in the city watching processions or otherwise .... um .... 'celebrating' Palm Sunday - Domingo de Ramos. Ramos was a new word for me in Spanish and Palm was a new English word for my Guatemalan friend.

                                            Still, even with fewer people there didn't seem to be any empty vendor spaces.

                                          2. re: rworange

                                            Here are a few random photos from just a couple of hours ago. Lots of different lettuces; beautiful watercress; more tomatoes than you could carry; beautiful asparagus; a few different kinds of eggplant; some lovely turnips. I don't get it. It's as though we've been in two entirely different markets. Are you going inside near where the meat and fish is, or just hanging around on the outskirts?

                                            1. re: JoanN

                                              Great photos.

                                              It is not that there's not a lot of produce, but with the exception of whatever tropical fruit is in season, it is a lot of the same produce.

                                              Those are the ever present Roma tomatoes. Gotta make chirmol out of something. Without a lot of looking, they taste like what Safeway or any chain supermarket sells. Paulb actually found a vendor in Santiago with decent plum tomatoes. Occassionally there will be beefsteak type of tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, but like lettuce other than iceburg it is not comon.

                                              Yeah, watercress (berros) is a common green in Gautemala, very inexpensive and used more creatively than just stuck in tea sandwiches.

                                              Nope that's the market I see, though I haven't run across that lettuce vendor.

                                              Hope you get some photos of the chickens on one of your visits. I tried to locate salt cod yesterday inside without luck. If you see any in the next week, hope you snap a photo. It is a Lenten dish.

                                              If I could have gotten there thru the crowds, I would have revisited La Fonda de La Calle Real yesterday as they have a salt cod dish and a Lenten appetizer plate. Other than that special Easter dishes seem to be non-exixstant.

                                              No ads in Paiz or elsewhere for Easter. No shelves of chocolate bunnies, eggs or jelly beans. No Easter egg kits. It is salt cod, canned tuna and canned sardines.

                                              Good Lord, Guatemalans treat Easter like a religious holiday . Where's the pagan good times and eats?

                                              Anyway, fabulous mangos and there were a few chico vendors at the market.. Tiny yellow nance and something even my friend never saw before ... red cocotes were on sale.

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                I saw huge piles of salt cod yesterday, again right around where the majority (and best) of the butchers and fish mongers are). If you can find the butchers (there's one aisle that must have about half a dozen, and then right around the corner were a couple of places selling very nice looking pork and baggies of rendered lard), the salt cod was on tables in stacks about two feet deep.

                                      1. I lived like a spoiled brat in Polanco in Mexico City in 1997-8 and ate extremely well. Subsequently, I have lived off and on in Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan, and visit frequently, for great food and old friends, and to see little Veggo, my now 10 year old cat. We had a great reunion 2 weeks ago.

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          It's hard to find an area in Mexico that doesn't feed you well. We've spent a lot of time in Vallarta and I could happily live there based on food alone.

                                          1. re: ferret

                                            Really? I have never thought of Mexico particularly as a food destination, although the roadside tacos I've had in Baja (and diablitos coming back across the boarder) were out of this world... What do you eat when you're there?

                                            1. re: chloehk

                                              Where to start? For desayuno, a rainbow of sliced fruit, every day of the year. Fresh squeezed valencia OJ likewise, and excellent coffee from Veracruz and even better from Chiapas. Imaginative breakfasts, with sweet pastries ( pan dulce) and egg dishes- huevos rancheros, migas, motulenos, all served outdoors year around during beautiful mornings. Oh, and the morning lechon, until it is gone.

                                              Later, for almuerzo, whole fish, fish fillets, and ceviche of every sort. Roasted chickens tease your senses before noon. Arrachera likewise. Or tortas de milanesa you wouldn't want to drop on your foot.

                                              For dinner, there are many specialties in every region in every season, way too many to chronicle. Mexicans have a spiritual connection to the earth that they cherish as the source of nourishment and life, that is vaccuous in the US. These are but a few examples, but a compelling reason why I will again retire (for the third time) in Mexico, and nowhere else.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                Ooh, thank you for the color!

                                                Sometimes the circumstances make the food taste even better -- like eating fresh fruits *outside* for breakfast. How pleasurable and luxurious.

                                                This is serious motivation to visit ;-)

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  "Mexicans have a spiritual connection to the earth that they cherish as the source of nourishment and life, that is vaccuous in the US."

                                                  I have known WAY too many Hunters, Fisherman, and Farmers who could not disagree with you more.

                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                    DR, my generalization about Americans was unfair to exactly the ones you cite; my apologies. The average Mexican stays put and grows roots - mexicans move on average less than once in their lifetime, actually 0.7 moves. In contrast, Americans move on average every 5 years, and 79% are urban dwellers. I suspect that the hunters, fisherman, and farmers you mention tend to stay put, and develop a kinship with the land that is similar to the norm in Mexico, but are the exception here. I have boundless reverence for all who make that connection and find a peace with the earth that eludes most others.

                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                    I have to agree with you on P Vallarta. During my cruise ship days I "lived" in Mexico Mon-Sat, and definitely ate my way through each port. Amazing fruits and some of the best seafood I've ever tasted.

                                                  3. re: chloehk

                                                    If your image of Mexican cuisine is what we typically find in most Mexican restaurants in the states, I can understand why you would not consider Mexico a foodie paradise. But in fact there's an incredible diversity of regional deliciousness. Yes, it's built around beans, maize and chiles -- but the Tex-Mex sameness you encounter here doesn't exist. You can order the same meal in two different restaurants even in a single city and they are likely to be quite different, both of them muy sabroso..

                                                    1. re: chloehk

                                                      I lived in Mexico City for 18 months in 1997-98, and then on and off since then (including in Puebla, Guadalajara, and Monterrey). My friends and I describe Mexico City as a big concrete kitchen. It has a fantastic array of food, as Veggo describes, and is a real treat for anyone who's adventurous (which it sounds like you are!).

                                                      And like you, I lived in Costa Rica in the early 1990s (mostly in Puntarenas) and was deeply dismayed at the lack of variety in the food. It's the only place I've lived where I used to daydream about the food at home.

                                                      1. re: Cachetes

                                                        Seriously, Costa Rica must have drastically changed since the 1990's as I found the most variety of food and restaurants in any Central American country ... well, Panama City, maybe but I'm just researching that.

                                                        My understanding is that the Mercado Central area was redone somewhere in the 90's.It is clean, cool (due to fans), orangized and offers great variety.

                                                        Supposedly the interest in serious coffee is also within the last few years.

                                                        This is a lousy online format (you have to scroll down a bit), but it lists 140 restaurants in San Jose where the cuisine spans the globe including Japanese, wood-fired oven pizzas, fusion, Indian, Louisiana style Cajun, French, Argentinian (ok its a chain, but still), Mediterrean, Mexican, Lebanese, Peruvian, Cuban, Brazilian, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese (and some nice looking onces, not steam tables) and probably lots more.

                                                        The US presence seems domminated by chains from Denny's and its grand slam breakfast to Tony Romas ... and, of course all the fast food like Wendy's, BK, McDonalds, etc.

                                                        The only thing that didn't impress me much was the baked goods, but I wasn't there long enough to explore. It seems the Masmanni bakery chain has put its mark on that country and it is either that or Masmanni wanna be's. I wasn't impressed at all by what I sampled at Masmanni ... just like souless US chain bakeries ... and they BOAST they don't use butter, only margarine and "egg essence" ... whatever that means ... and whatever it means, it tastes it.


                                                      2. re: chloehk

                                                        Roadside tacos aside (and I've had many great ones), Mexico's food culture is much, much more diverse than that. There's an abundance of fish and seafood on both the Gulf and Pacific sides, a lot of regional cuisines and some world-class dining in the cities. In Vallarta, they have an annual Gourmet Festival drawing visitors and chefs from around the world.


                                                  4. Well, that would be Paris for me. Lived there as a college student on a junior year abroad program in the 1980s, when the dollar was strong. I was still a poor student and ate most meals with my French hosts, but I also had the chance to eat in many inexpensive but delicious restaurants. It was the first place I tried couscous, Vietnamese food, and lentils (for some reason, my mom never made them.) It was the only time in my life I've ever been chubby--gained 20 lbs that year. I have a small frame (about 5'5" and usually about 115 lbs) and my own father didn't recognize me at first when I got back to the US.

                                                    1. i've lived in Barcelona, but before it was the foodie destination it is now, and in Northern Italy for 5 months. I've spent time in France over the years, but only about 6 weeks worth. I've lived in San Francisco now for almost 15 years, and I have to say San Francisco. The wide variety of cuisines, the availability of great produce, the food culture here..... you really can't find that equation everywhere.

                                                      That said, I'd give my right arm to live in Paris for the rest of my life, eating all the way...

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                          you're practically doing it now! greener than green with envy......

                                                      1. I lived in Thailand for 2 years, ending about a month ago. I love the food scene in Bangkok. Everywhere you go in the city there is someone cooking food on the streets and sidewalks and it is often delicious and extremely cheap. Thai food has a great variety of flavors and that comes through on the street food scene or the small restaurants around town.

                                                        I live in India now and the food here is different but can be equally delicious. There are many small family owned restaurants as you go down the streets and so far most of them I've visited have been quite good. This is one of the places where I've enjoyed the vegetarian food more than the non-veg food. Here, I eat probably 90% vegetarian food and I never feel like I'm missing anything. In most other countries I eat a vegetarian dish maybe 1 out of every 3 or 4 dishes.

                                                        The place I would probably enjoy the most from a food perspective is Japan. Been there a few times but never lived there.

                                                        1. I spent two years in Germany, and (almost) never had a bad meal. The bratwursts in Frankfurt were as memorably good as that sort of thing can get - a big very tasty 1/3 lb white porky sausage sticking almost obscenely out of the little brotchen which tried to contain it while you attempted to eat it without squirting mustard on yourself.

                                                          Other low-budget favorites were koenigen pastaetchen (sp?) in a patty shell - the original, and superior, chicken ala king; and Königsberger klopse - German meatballs in a caper sauce. A bier or glass of apfelwein went nicely with these.

                                                          Ach du lieber! My nostalgia is going into high gear!

                                                          1. 1) Singapore - outstanding food for a pauper's price. This tiny nation-state is populated by de facto Chowhounds.

                                                            2) Spain - maybe I'm seeing things through a touron's eyes, but the food culture there seems amazing. The only problem I see living there would be trying to pronounce the c-sound correctly. Growing up in Southern California has left me pronouncing s's an c's the same. Barcelona, Galicia, Andalucia and Valencia are phonetic minefields for me.

                                                            1. Have never lived in the US.

                                                              Most of my life in Canada - some of the best lobster on the planet. Local mustard, pulses and wild game.
                                                              Scotland - a year about ten years ago. Extremely fresh fish, infamous Scottish breakfasts including blood pudding and haggis, deep-fried Mars bars (not my favourite!), Scottish oatmeal with whisky and cream, baps, Cullen Skink, Howtowtie with Drappit Eggs, Potted Hare, Clapshot, and so on.
                                                              Croatia (we purchased a house there a few years ago) - wonderful fresh grilled fish and seafood, lamb that grazes strictly on wild sages, wild asparagus, glorious olive oils, fresh white truffles, air dried ham (prsut), peka (octopus, beef or lamb) slowly braised under a special dome-shaped lid that has been heaped with coals.

                                                              We are moving to Croatia for many reasons but one is so we are in a central location to travel quickly to anywhere in Europe. And I cannot wait to live our dream.

                                                              11 Replies
                                                              1. re: chefathome

                                                                Good food and great plan. Enjoy the Adriatic!

                                                                1. re: chefathome

                                                                  i spent 2 months in 05 in Croatia - Dubrovnik but also this tiny gorgeous coastal town, Podgora. lovely, lovely place, wonderful people - lucky you!!!

                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                    Thanks! It is truly an incredible country. Absolutely breathtaking. We are indeed counting our blessings.

                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                      I have four friends going to Croatia end of May and spend two weeks driving around. I wish i was going. I was there the end of '60's and it would be interesting to see the changes since then. Even then, the food was incredible, especially the fresh seafood.

                                                                      1. re: igorm

                                                                        Oh, wonderful! They'll really enjoy it I'm sure. We leave in two weeks and will be gone for nearly a month. Cannot wait!! The first time I was there was in 2005 so I obviously have nothing to compare to as you do. It definitely would be interesting for you to see it now. I am smitten with the food as well. It is so much fun going to markets and meeting fishing boats early in the morning to see what we are going to cook in our outdoor ovens that day...

                                                                        1. re: chefathome

                                                                          Yeah! That reminds me of the fish market on the pier on Hvar. My companion and I picked out a fresh good sized fish and the fisherman said his wife would cook it for us for lunch. He told us what time to be there and the directions and we most certainly were there on the appointed time. The fish was poached and the poaching broth was our soup. The fish with some greens and boiled potatoes was formidable. We also had home made wine and slivovic. What could have been better? Oh yeah, a nap afterwards!

                                                                          1. re: igorm

                                                                            The scene: Dubrovnik old town. The year: 1972. The personnel: My high school friend and I. At a café, drinking wonderful beer, checking out those nice tall Yugoslavian guys. A day never to be forgotten. (I still have an apron I bought at an open-air market from a sweet market lady.)

                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                              How great! I love hearing these stories. It makes me yearn for Croatia more than ever...

                                                                              It's cool that you still have that apron! :-)

                                                                            2. re: igorm

                                                                              Oh, isn't that glorious? What a tremendous experience you had. Obviously one you will always remember!

                                                                    2. re: chefathome

                                                                      Scotland? Wow. While it's true one can find decent produce, meats and fish at local shops, I would say that-- on the whole-- this has been one of the most dismal and bleak food places I have ever lived. I can take some of what's on offer and make meals but in terms of a local culture of prepared food, I'd say its fatty, starchy greasy, sweet and bland. Sure, I've gone to some very expensive restaurants and I enjoy the whisky on offer, but compared to the variety and tastiness of other nations, what's on affordable, everyday offer is just sad.

                                                                      I suppose it would be nice to find a good blood pudding, but I'm not sure such a thing exists after the marvellous boudin noir one could purchase even at a supermarket in Belgium. I'm not impressed with how many oats are crammed into these things.

                                                                      As for fish, it is really depressing that the standard for a nation surrounded by water (again, the average restaurant) is to fry the hell out of it. (Speaking of which, fried Mars bars are not an original dish of the Scots but a response to the observation once made that Scots would fry anything, even a Mars bar.)

                                                                      "Wait Thornton, that’s not all. I ordered this cheeseburger, but instead they put a frozen slab of meat in a deep fat fryer and served it to me in a tissue. I refused to pay. An argument ensued and I said some very racist things about the Scotch and about how fat a lot of them were, probably on account of what they did to their burgers. That’s why this mist is here: revenge. I’m gonna have to face them."

                                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                                        I suppose living in such a beautiful country made me a bit biased. It is one of the loveliest places I have ever been to and I have been all over the world. So, eating fish and chips in front of an ancient atmospheric castle whilst a piper is playing in the background really gets me. But we knew fishermen from where we got our fresh fish - not necessarily in the restaurants. So, it definitely does not stand out as a food destination at all - it just happens that I love it there and did fortunately encounter some yummy stuff. Not often, of course, but sometimes it would happen! It definitely doesn't compare to many other countries in the food department but just happens to be one of the few in which I have lived.

                                                                    3. Well, I grew up in Germany, and it's kinda the only place I've lived before I moved to the US. I spent many a summer in Greece, so Greek food is part of my culinary heritage, so to speak.

                                                                      I love German breakfasts, and the German Abendbrot - the traditional dinner of nice crusty bread, cheeses, cold cuts, maybe a salad. Nothing crazy, but good ingredients.

                                                                      German white asparagus. But I've raved about that ad nauseam.

                                                                      The fact that you have butchers, cheese shops, fish stores, bakeries, etc. and they're not all part of some generic supermarket.

                                                                      I spent 4 weeks in Thailand, which doesn't really qualify as "living" there, but I would absolutely love to return some day, as I now love hot food & cilantro which I didn't back then.

                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                        I really don't get what's so great about white asparagus, which I've mainly had in Austria. It's tasty enough, but not a patch on the wonderful green asparagus we get in April and May in England.

                                                                        I lived in France for six months before I went to university but I was too young and too poor to appreciate it properly. I practically lived on tomatoes, French bread, pizza and carrot salad. I did have my first proper curry there though, strangely, my first artichoke and my first couscous.

                                                                        The only other place I've ever lived for any period of time is Moscow. Not a great food city in the early nineties. I lived on vodka, fanta, coke, black bread and chocolate, with the odd Georgian meal thrown in (by far the best food we had). I lost a lot of weight!

                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                          Well, we all have different preferences when it comes to food. I find the white asparagus in Germany, only available in April, May, and parts of June, to be superior in taste to any green asparagus I've ever had. It's a matter of terroir, I guess.

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            Zuckerman Farms' jumbo asparagus in in the Sacramento Delta is reputed to have the best asparagus in the world by many top chefs. Aside from generations of understanding the culture of asparagus (e.g., my family was three generations into asparagus farming until my dad left Sacramento/Stockton), they will all tell you it is about the delta's soil and climate - terroir if you will. Dutch white asparagus is considered to be the best for the whites - again it's a similar terroir. Of my memory serves me correctly, Germany is the largest consumer of asparagus in the world. They demand the best, and what you were probably eating was Dutch asparagus.

                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                              Sorry, but the best asparagus, at least in Europe (I won't make any assumptions about whatever is grown in California, not having been there, or having eaten any of it, ever), comes from Germany, specifically from the South (around Schwetzingen) and the East, near Berlin (in and around Beelitz). No need for Dutch asparagus if you can have the real thing.

                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                I think the Dutch (and many chefs) would beg to differ! ;)

                                                                                From Wiki:

                                                                                "Asparagus is very popular in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany. In Germany it is known as "Königliches Gemüse" (Royal Vegetable). Germany produces 82,000 tons of asparagus a year; however, that is only enough to meet 61% of consumption. Many German cities hold festivals celebrating its harvest. Schwetzingen claims to be the "Asparagus Capital of the World" and holds an annual Spargelfest (asparagus festival) in which an Asparagus Queen is crowned."

                                                                                From "The Rural Migration New" with a 1998 article about Dutch agriculture:

                                                                                "Asparagus. The 1,200 Dutch growers who produce white asparagus hire
                                                                                8,000 to 10,000 seasonal and part-time workers for the harvest in May and June.
                                                                                The asparagus is grown under plastic or in the open air, dug up, and sold fresh
                                                                                to Dutch and German consumers. The average farm is small, with perhaps two
                                                                                acres of white asparagus, but most farmers aim to hire four or five workers an

                                                                                Between 1/3-1/2 of the asparagus consumed in Germany is imported. I think there's a strong demand for Dutch asparagus there - again, it's about terroir. ;) But tastes are as personal as underwear - not that I want my food to taste like briefs. :)

                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                  "Schwetzingen claims to be the "Asparagus Capital of the World" and holds an annual Spargelfest (asparagus festival) in which an Asparagus Queen is crowned."

                                                                                  So - Wiki actually agrees with me, whereas the Dutch may or may not. Since I buy asparagus in Berlin every year at the farmer's market while it's available from local (as in German, not Dutch) producers, I can't say much about Dutch asparagus.

                                                                                  I'll stick with the best Germany has to offer.

                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                    I think the key word in that statement is, "claims". Anyone can make a claim, but most can't prove it. :)

                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka


                                                                                      Like *claiming* there are no authentic Sichuan restaurants to be found anywhere outside of Sichuan, as you have done repeatedly on a different thread '-)

                                                                                      As someone who grew up on German, not Dutch, asparagus, I believe I'm a fairly reliable source of knowledge on the subject.

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                        That would be "Szechuan" in PA. ;) Just had a great bowl of Sichuan dan dan mian in the San Gabriel Valley the other day - probably the best noodle dish I've had in years. The lady owner who is from Sichuan, makes her own noodles and has a couple of fire-eating chefs from there as well. The Sichuan hot pot? Well, let's just say that good chile burn twice - youch! Here's the write-up and slide show from our local rag's LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold:



                                                                                        Now that's Sichuan!

                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                          Jonathan Gold hasn't made it out here yet, the poor thing.

                                                                                          Spell it any way you wish - I have fantastic dry-fried beans, ma po tofu, hot pots, etc. on a weekly basis.

                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                            I don't think you have to feel sorry for him. He knows more about any one particular segment of a given cuisine that he has immersed himself in than most who are from that culture. To try one aspect of a cuisine is to taste it. To enjoy a myriad of choices is to understand it.

                                                                      2. In descending Order

                                                                        Mexico City some of the most diverse cooking in the world-Swiss, Polish, German, all regional Mexican specialities. Great Service, wonderful street foods, great markets.

                                                                        Taipei- ditto except for the mexican specialties sub all styles of chinese cooking

                                                                        Hong Kong-Dim Sum

                                                                        Saigon-Bahn Mi

                                                                        1. Black Forest, 1981/82 (Freiburg-im-Bresigau). Great local food and farmers market. Close enough to be able to pop over to France every weekend for fantastic French food. I am one of the (seemingly rare) Americans who loves traditional German cooking (especially game).

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                              Want to go there, maybe next time in Europe, to visit the husbandly "cousin" and eat eat eat. Basel and Strasbourg in striking range too, oh yeah.

                                                                            2. re: pikawicca

                                                                              Wow, that summons up recollections of a substantial Thanksgiving dinner of boar, venison, and blood sausage in Neuschwanstein near the castle.

                                                                              Thanks for freshening up the memory!

                                                                            3. the closest i've ever come to *living* outside the US was a month i spent in Australia, and not only is Sydney my favorite city in the world, but i'd actually most like to live there for culinary reasons as well...eating gluten-free is much easier there than it is in most places. plus there's all that beautiful fresh seafood and produce!

                                                                              but i'm pretty sure i could also be quite culinarily satisfied living in Barcelona or one of many cities in Greece or Mexico.

                                                                              1. I am going to have to chime in for the UK. Granted the restaurant scene wasn't the best (it's much better now than in the past) but it was the first country abroad that I lived in and I loved exploring the UK supermarkets and small food stores (this would be in the pre-Waitrose days). There were certainly a lot of dreck but it wasn't hard to find a good butcher or fishmonger or cheesemonger and the British cottoned onto the concept of cooking local, seasonal food before the Americans did and we ate lots of wonderful simply prepared roasts, meat pies and fishes, ending our meals with fruit and a cheese course. The food halls in the London department stores were always fabulous and the British also taught me how to drink well.

                                                                                And of course, there was always France for a handy weekend vacation.

                                                                                The most difficult place for everyday living was easily Jakarta. I actually was thankful for having a cook rather than doing my own cooking.

                                                                                We now live in Dubai. It's not bad and I can find almost everything I need. It's the quality of produce and meats that isn't quite up to snuff, certainly nothing comparable to the UK or the US.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                  >>The most difficult place for everyday living was easily Jakarta. I actually was thankful for having a cook rather than doing my own cooking.<<

                                                                                  My cousin has been living in Jakarta for decades now. He loves it. As you mention, it can be tough, but as long as one can delegate household duties to domestic help, life is much simpler. He's fortunate in that the company he works with covers his living expenses there, and the stipend seems pretty generous.

                                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                    It is a bit surreal to look back to our Jakarta days and realize that for an American expat family living in a modestly sized villa on a compound, we still had a "staff" of four full time help. Cook, driver, nanny and maid. But they were worth their weight in gold in a place like Jakarta even if I had to learn quite a bit about "managing" a household staff, which made me feel very Victorian.

                                                                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                      I'm guessing with your family there, and being a city that is not the most user-friendly of cities for expats, your staff were not only invaluable, I'd think they were mandatory. Compound that with some turbulent times in Indonesia over the past 40-50 years, and I'd think not having staff could be even dangerous.

                                                                                      For my cousin, his staff replaces his mom (my aunt by marriage). Growing up as a typical Japanese student with his nose in the books 24/7, he was catered to by his mom, as are most kids there. He's still single, so no wife to fill in for all of those motherly duties which makes the staff a prerequisite for him - tough life... :)

                                                                                      I'm not sure how long ago you were in Jakarta, but having at least one live-in person to assist in housekeeping, cooking and child care is pretty much the standard now for most of SE Asia's middle class and above. The labor is so cheap, the middle class would be considered more of the upper middle class here in the US, and both husband and wife typically work now - at least within the ethnic Chinese community.

                                                                                2. Sydney for the Thai/Asian food and great beer.
                                                                                  Guadalajara for the wonderful fresh fruit and homemade tortillas and the mole!
                                                                                  Fiji for the Indian Food
                                                                                  Moorea for the amazing fish and eating it on the prettiest beaches in the world.

                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                    When/where did you have great beer in Sydney? (I had some really good beer there, but it was very recently and the place was new. Curious if there are other good spots for my next trip!)

                                                                                    1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                      Both places in Sydney have been around since the 1800..
                                                                                      Lord Nelson's Brewery and Pub in the Rocks and Fortune of War right on George street down from the Four Seasons and the Quay..
                                                                                      I lived in Rose Bay in the late 80's and I was in Sydney again in 2004..won a trip with a gorgeous corner suite at the Four Seasons and we had a fantastic dinner at Tetsuya's..nothing like a free first class trip!


                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                        Gee, fancy. I was more of a Kings Cross hoodie, But Manly and Bondi were an easy drift...

                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Kings Cross back in the 80's was more seedy..nicer now...friends in Paddington which was the hip place where we mostly hung out.
                                                                                          Love Bondi and Manley...
                                                                                          Forgot to mention that I lived a month in Melbourne..that is one cool city!

                                                                                          Veg..love your kitty avatar..gorgeous!

                                                                                        2. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                          I've been to the Fortune of War! But, insufferable beer snob that I am, I don't rate a well-pulled Guinness as "great beer" -- just tolerable! ;)

                                                                                          1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                            We weren't drinking Guinness...it was in the 80's and it was a fab Fijian bitters.
                                                                                            As far as being and insufferable beer snob, you obviously haven't had a fresh Guinness from Dublin..wouldn't dare call that tolerable.

                                                                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                              Hmmm... Fiji Bitters or Victoria Bitters... decisions, decisions... :)

                                                                                    2. I grew up in Turkey, I have not enjoyed lamb as much anywhere else. The spices are colorful and fragrant, the rice is chewy, the bread is full of holes, the olive oil is fruity and the teas are strong. I order online to try to cook Turkish at home but something is always missing.

                                                                                      1. I lived in South Florida for a number of years and loved the food but ultimately it was too foreign for my tastes.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: redfish62

                                                                                          South Florida is OUTSIDE of the US? Since when? Same goes for Louisiana.

                                                                                        2. Melbourne 01-05! Office in the CBD, house in Brighton. The variety of cusine and quality, in my view is unsurpassed. Not to mention 150 vinyards within a two hour drive of the CBD.
                                                                                          We would move back in a heart beat!

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: qbdave

                                                                                            Melbs is next on my list of places to visit while visiting family in Oz. I've heard nothing but good things about the food there!

                                                                                            1. re: qbdave

                                                                                              Melbourne is awesome! I would happily live there if I give up on Western Australia.

                                                                                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                Funny, l lived in Melbourne for a short while and would have traded for the Margaret River area south of Perth in a heartbeat.

                                                                                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                  The Margaret River region is wonderful and I'm certainly grateful for living in Perth as it's so close, but it has lost a lot of its charm in recent years. The south-west is a wonderful place, but personally I love the culture of Melbourne and the cooler weather. But I would miss the wonderful food and wine from the south-west, I still consider myself lucky to live in such a wonderful place.

                                                                                                  1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                    Interesting... I had an office on St Gorges Terr. In Perth and was there monthly. We frequently traveled to the Margaret River but although the vineyards were wonderful,(vase felix) as an example and the B&B's were fine, it is difficult to beat the cosmopolitan, world class deliverables of Melbourne.

                                                                                                    1. re: qbdave

                                                                                                      Definitely. Melbourne just has that certain something about it. I think people in Perth tend to eat out to be seen in trendy places, whereas Melbourne people tend to actually care about the food they eat and the service they receive. Perth being so isolated and cut off makes it sort of an odd place - like a giant country town with immense wealth floating around. Not a bad place for food, but I do love Melbourne.

                                                                                            2. The most time I spent living in a foreign country was the 15 or so months I spent in Egypt. However, I would not consider it the favorite place I've lived in outside the US. No, that honor would have to go to Florence, where I lived for 3 months when I was in college. At the time, it was 1400 Lire to the dollar, and everything was so reasonable that it was completely within reach of a college student on a tight budget. My friend and I rented a room in a huge apartment owned by the genteel Landini sisters, and every morning we would be served wonderful coffee, juice and hot rolls by Anna, the sisters' maid, who would knock on the door, asking "Permiso," before she entered. There were no crowds like there are now, and we wandered freely in and out of all the museums and churches, spending many hot noon-times in the Medici chapel lying on the cool marble benches. Last year, I was shocked by the lines outside the Duomo. In those days, we'd actually take shortcuts by walking through the church, admiring its beauty as we saved a couple of minutes and got out of the sun. Other days, we would walk to the private tennis club where, with our passports and a dollar, we could gain admittance to the exclusive club, and swim in the pool with all the wealthy Florentines. We ate unbelievably delicious food for a few dollars a day, and drank lemonata to quench our thirst after long, dusty walks to the Boboli Gardens. I would move there in a NY minute.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                Oh heaven...I was there for a very few days on a high school trip in 1972 (too few days) and remember it being absolutely heavenly too. You could buy the most marvellous gloves for very little...and the gelato!!!

                                                                                              2. Being in the military has afforded me some great opportunities to sample different food. My two favorite places are germany ( was on assignment to frankfurt for 6 months - i dont remember much ) and Italy.

                                                                                                One year i was traveling to the middle east on deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch ( enforcing the no-fly zones over iraq ) and our plane broke down in Sicily. We spent five glorious days there sampling the local dishes and i was in heaven. there was a resturant there outside the gate we went to for dinner one night and i couldnt believe what i saw on the menu.... a pizza with hot dogs and french fries. It was so weird i had to get it. It was simply awesome. To this date, it has been the best pizza ive ever had.

                                                                                                1. Vietnam, '67-'68 c-rations and Spam, never got to eat bahn mI, never got out of the field, some illicit pho, was all. The mountains of Quang Tri were pretty, but the natives were not friendly at all; expecially those from the North. Fishing w/ granades was fun, but a wee bit risky.

                                                                                                  Back in the ol' USSR, '69-'70. Them Roooshins were pretty damn friendly. The best? Deep fried sturgeon, tons of caviar and vodka. The down side, were the greasy soups & stews w/ cabbage & potato. McDonalds and Coca Cola had not yet reached the wilds of communism, yet. The lamb shashlik, marinated herring and the great breads were faves of mine.

                                                                                                  Norway, 5 years on a small island near the coastal, oil city of Stavanger. Loved the salmon, white fishes and, crabs and sweet North Atlantic shrimp. Ate a lot island lamb too. A big plus was that I had a long fish net that keep fed w/ the cod family and crabs. I tried to stay away from the whale meat, though; principles. Alcohol was expensive so I learned to home brew and make wine. In the autumn, all the reindeer meat was cheap & deliscious. The Norwegian people were great and through them I learned excellent Norwegian.

                                                                                                  Five years in Helsinki; wild mushrooms, fish and reindeer were a common part of my diet. I was fortunate to be able to split a 5 gal. bucket of burbot roe w/ a friend for a winters supply of of caviar on buckwheat blini topped w/ sour cream and diced onion. Riisi and lija pirrakas were a constant treat as well as the makkarra (sausage) stands after a night on the town. At the time, the Russian restaurants in Helsinki were said to be better than those in Moscow.

                                                                                                  Santa Cruz, Bolivia is at the crossroads of Bolivian and Brazilian cuisines. Being at the Amazon head waters, there were great Amazonian fish, lots of beef for churrascos and even llama and great roast duck. I really got to love Brazilizn fojoada. But the true culinary drug of Boliva is the saltena and I really miss them. The four years I spent there were a pleasure and we even adopted a 4 year old street kid.

                                                                                                  My sons have lived in Seoul, Phuket and Costa Rica, so I still have the opportunity for foreign travel, familial visits and international chow.

                                                                                                  The 3rd little Grand Keg is due in Seoul next month.

                                                                                                  Carpe Chow!

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    You so rock Pass!
                                                                                                    Congrat's on the third little keg..

                                                                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                      Going to our house in Maine for the summer and am scouring the airline web sites for cheap fares to Seoul. Going on a straight sea food diet in Me.
                                                                                                      Number 2 Keg is taking off from our house in NM on a 650 cc Suzuki motorcycle in Sept. and riding it all the way to Rio in Argentina! What a chow adventure and gray hairs for me.

                                                                                                    2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                      Wow, that's a lot of roads traveled. And big congrats on the little one!
                                                                                                      I also lived on Phuket for a period of time and that is far and away my favorite food location.
                                                                                                      In fact, I cooked very little until I returned to the US from Thailand. I knew that to replicate all the things I enjoyed so much there, I needed to stock my kitchen and get to work!

                                                                                                    3. I was a hippie hitchhiker in the early 1970s in Europe, had my most memorable sandwich ever in France, best hummus in Jerusalem, and it was impossible to have anything less than delicious in Greece (mostly spent my time on the islands.)
                                                                                                      I sure envy those of you still traveling!

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                        I envy you for hitting those places back in the 70s. Pre-electronic age and living by the seat of your pants will never happen again.

                                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                          Fully agreed. I like to think I'm an adventurous traveler, but watch me have a near anxiety attack if I can't get internet nearby. Sadly, a trait of my generation.

                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                            At that time, people often talked about Europe "before the war" (30 years back) and how much it had changed, and not for the better. The pace of life, food, manners, everything. And now I get it--so embrace your generation, I'd say. Only *some* of the Internet people are harsh and flippant. The rest of them will tell you how to sweeten strawberries if you ask!

                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                              My wife and I did a, Let's Go Europe, Eurail tour in the the 70's. We were staying w/ friends in Oslo and my friend (He earlier asked me to explain what "Stepped on a pop top, Blew out a flip flop" meant.) answers the phone and says, "It's your mom!" Mom tells me that she has decided to celebrate her retirement from teaching by buying a Freddy Laker Airline ticket and a month long Eurail pass and was joining us in touring Europe! She then asked me how to get from Gatewick, UK to Oslo! Can you sense the excitement in my voice? She actually arrives in Oslo in good shape w/ her Burrbury clothing and a 2 ton suitcase. All-in-all we had a pretty good time.
                                                                                                              The kicker was when she returned home to my dad and we were back in NM. I was talking on the phone w/ dad and he informed me that she had departed w/ several grand in her purse and returned home w/ the same amount. He asked, "Didn't she pay for anything?"
                                                                                                              My dad called her "Grafina", which in Russian means Dutchess.
                                                                                                              RIP Olga, you were quite a broad.
                                                                                                              Dumkeg the Good-Son

                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                Such a story! My (nor any of my friend's) mothers did NOT show up during my travels. I did meet a girl who had been a student 2 years before of my (high school teacher) father. Small world!

                                                                                                                My (Aunt) Olga was a nun in New York, 1950s.

                                                                                                      2. I lived in Thailand years back but been back to visit family there every year. In Thailand, food is all around you. Even when you are trapped in your house, food comes by in pickup trucks, motorcycles, home-made vehicles and on foot. Every food seller has their own announcement of their arrivals. Some shout out what they offering, some use a horn and others use a home-made sound device.

                                                                                                        If you walk just a few meters outside your residence, you may find a small group of street food providers with everything from noodles, snacks, desserts and dinner.

                                                                                                        Besides missing all the food, I especially miss seafood there. It's fresh and affordable. There are a lot more variety of greens there. Thai fruit is great tasting and abundant. Every time I go back to visit, I stuff myself silly every meal and still manage to lose weight. It's a win-win situation.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: nattythecook

                                                                                                          The food is amazing in Thailand, and the fruit, WOW!

                                                                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                            Jamaica! Perfect weather. Amazing fruits. Food with flavor. It was a great place to live.

                                                                                                        2. I've only traveled, so feel free to kick me off this thread - but the street vendor nutella crepes in Paris and the pizza anywhere in Italy (and also in Freiburg, wonderful pizza there) still stand out in my mind. Oh, and an authentic Belgian waffle right by the mannekin pis. Oh, and finding an Aldi's in Hamburg to supplement our quickly plummeting cash reserves.

                                                                                                          I don't miss the fact that real orange juice is/was impossible to find. Or maybe our requests just got lost in translation. Every container labeled "orange juice" had a good amount of lemon juice instead, and tasted absolutely awful.

                                                                                                          On a more somber note, we visited Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt, and afterward walked a few blocks to a Greek restaurant, where my husband enjoyed a hamburger with egg. He still talks about how good that meal was. I expect it tasted so good because he was so moved by the concentration camp and was happy to be alive and not living through something like the poor Jews did.

                                                                                                          1. I was lucky enough to live in Nice about 7 years ago. I loved everything about it-the food(and chocolate shops on every corner!), the scenery, the weather. If I had to pick somewhere now it would definitely be Tokyo. I spent a couple of weeks there visiting family and feel like barely scratched the surface.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Luvfriedokra

                                                                                                              I am originally from Northern California, but moved to Japan around my 23rd birthday. I have been in Tokyo for 34 years now and truly enjoy all the eating opportunities. In recent years, very good fresh okra has become easier to find, and now and then I enjoy a little fried okra.

                                                                                                            2. Southwest France in the early '80s-Bordeaux and Arcachon. I'm lucky enough to return every year. The food and wine are still wonderful, but the French are getting heavier! I see a lot more fast food than before, including a terrible chain called "Flunch", which stands for "Fast Lunch". So sad to see that change in the culture!

                                                                                                              1. I spent three years in West Germany back in the 80's, and most of the food I ate there was excellent. I still miss going to the local markplatz on the weekend, and picking my way through the fresh produce stands, or the local festivals.

                                                                                                                A few years ago (due to my employer), I lived for several months in Osaka. Most of the restaurants, bars, ramen shops I hit with my neighbors and coworkers were all great.