A recent survey by the website Hotels.com found that Americans, Australians and other nationalities thought British food was poor, voting the UK as having the worst food. France, Italy and Japan were voted as the top three food countries in the world.
For me, one of the great joys of travelling is to get to know a country through its food and, as far as my travel experiences are concerned, I have to agree with the survey. The worst food that I have had anywhere is in the UK, particularly in England. Not all food there has been bad, but I have found London to be a wasteland when it comes to cuisine.
In fact, the worst meal that I have had in my entire life was a tepid, gluggy, indescribably bland yet nauseating Steak and Kidney Pudding I was once served at the Holiday Inn Mayfair. I chose that dish because it I assumed that being a traditional English meal it would be prepared correctly, yet it was just an atrocious thing to put in my mouth.
On the other hand, some of the pub food I had outside of London, particularly in country pubs was fine. British food has often been described as stodge and sometimes it is hard to disagree, particularly when you eat fish and chips that have been cooked in fat instead of oil, or eaten a pork pie that is served cold with a somewhat congealed filling.
I’ve had some memorable meals in Italy, and ice cream that I had in Venice is the best that I have ever tasted. Italians and French seem to put more care into their food, and take their cooking and eating very seriously indeed.
I do love Asian cuisine, and whilst I have a fondness for Japanese, I love Korean. I know that it is an acquired taste, but there is something about kimchi that just pleases my palate. I’ve also had many memorable meals in China, and I still fondly recall a toffee sweet potato dish that I ate in Xian that was simply sensational. Cat’s Eyes Dumplings, a speciality in Taiyuan were also delicious.
I’ve been to Malaysia many times and when there I get addicted to Roti Canai, a type of grilled pancake that is dipped into dhal that, to me, is just heaven. One of the best seafood meals that I have ever tasted was a dish called Sauna Prawns that I had at the Capitol Restaurant in Hung Hom, Hong Kong that was simplistic, fresh and absolutely delicious.
By trying the local food you get to know the best, and sometimes the worst, of a country simply by eating your way through it.