I just read this ridiculous article that came up with a list of countries where the food is “surprisingly” good. Whilst places like Sweden, Hungary and Georgia would never be top of anyone’s lists for great grub, most of the others are just retarded. I mean, someone actually thinks that food in Mexico, America, China and fucking Japan won’t be good…
You could eat well out of a convenience store regardless of which little town you go to in Japan, nevermind the myriad starred and highly rated restaurants. The cuisine is in the top 5 in the world regardless of whether you’re talking fine or street. It’s arguably the best imho. It’s also dominated the modern culinary landscape in terms of giving the rest of the world new ideas and approaches when it comes to food and cooking. So much of the world owes their newfound creativity to chefs going to Japan, finding out it’s awesome and returning home reinvigorated. You’d have to be some kind of tunnel dwelling time traveller to not expect great food in Japan.
I could go on and on about Chinese food or American or whatever but what really intrigued me was when I posed myself the question where I think I’d find surprisingly good food. Well I’m not so well travelled that I could come up with a convincing answer about places with unexpectedly good food. What countries would defy your expectations?
I suppose if I put it that way, it’s all down to wealth. There is no way in hell that if you find yourself in a rich city, that the food would be bad. You could say that one city has better food than another but you can’t say any big city really has bad food. That’s just nigh impossible unlikely to happen. On the other hand, if you went to a third world country, say somewhere where famine is a major issue, then you’d expect that any food would place emphasis on survival over taste.
Noticeably, the article failed to mention a single African country. After watching Sean Brock travel to Senegal in search of the real roots of American Southern cooking, I think it might be interesting to check out and if I’m far more likely to be surprised by good food there. Or perhaps I’m way more likely to be impressed if I found great food in a place no one really goes to or a place where it is really poor.
I remember a trip to Abashiri in Hokkaido, Japan. It’s a little town that mainly has 2 attractions. One is taking a boat out to sea to look at drift ice and the other is a prison. I had some insane fried chicken, arguably the best in my life there. That was surprising in how good it was but I still expected to find good food there. The obvious choice, the beer hall, has great yakiniku but it was the little takeaway fried chicken store that was surprising.
After my recent travels, I’ve found that no matter where I was, I was always able to find a good meal or at least a decent one, if I put in the effort to do so. Of course, if you drop yourself in a theme park or some other tourist trap, then good luck but you could also cook yourself. Life survives because it tries to and in part, I reckon the lure of great flavour had a part to play in keeping people alive but also keeping people interested to be alive and you’ll find people everywhere nowadays.