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The Most Interesting Food City in the World


docsconz
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From the standpoint in this ranked order of criteria: Variety, quality, affordability -- I would have to say NYC -- but I haven't experienced the food scene in London or Hong Kong. I agree with the comments about Singapore, and I would also add Kuala Lumpur (although it does not have nearly the same number of really good restaurants as S'pore, but does have much of the variety) and my personal favorite -- Penang. Also have to caveat that I need to visit Chicago and New Orleans soonest :rolleyes: in order to confirm whether I am correct on my vote for NYC.

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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I find it interesting that so far no one has mentioned Paris or London.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Paris is a terrific city for all sorts of reasons but it lacks the culinary variety of some of the other cities we've been discussing - though I've had some excellent inexpensive Cambodian and Japanese food there, along with French food, of course.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I note that when it comes to "interesting," many folks automatically think "variety." I know I do. And, unsurprisingly, most of these candidates for "interesting food city" are seaports. Being a crossroads of the world certainly appears to tear away the kind of insular thinking that may make a city a great food city, but not necessarily an "interesting" one.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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So, though I adore New Orleans, have never been to San Sabastien (or Barcelona, Singapore, KL, et al), and need to spend more time in New York and LA, I would say that Chicago is worthy of consideration.

Ahem. I think that if American cities besides New York (i.e., Chicago, New Orleans and, um, Los Angeles) are being mentioned, one has to at least include San Francisco as a contender. Especially if the entire metropolitan Bay Area is considered.

Cheers,

Squeat

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The number of proponents of New York, Chicago, and New Orleans in the above posts seems to be more ethnocentric than ethno-inclusive...

Unless "New Orleanian" has now been registered as an ethnic group, which I am not aware of, I was speaking ethnoinclusively (nice word-is it real? :laugh: ). We have the largest population of Hondurans in the world outside of Honduras, a huge Vietnamese population, Italians, Irish, and everything in between. The culture is nothing if not diverse and inclusive.

You are just as likely to find a couple of ghetto cats eating pho in some dive soup shop as you are a couple of little old Jewish Ladies mowing through tacos and salsa at Taqueria Corona. Nobody here cares where it came from or who cooked it , it's all about the taste and the experience.

I think Jaymes hit the nail on the head with her comment about seaports, though. We do seem to be listing an inordinate number of them.

As my friend Fred Flames once said,

"New Orleans is a city with a low standard of living and an incredibly high quality of life."

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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If you want ethnocentric excellence, I would nominate Florence or the general Tuscan region :biggrin:

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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My vote would be NYC. For me, the most intersting city food-wise would have everything from a wide variety of street foods, ethnic restaurants from as many areas of the globe as possible, a variety of high-end places, and a populace that supports restaurants - i.e. a somewhat food educated or at least interested population. This probably means a fairly large number of people with discretionary income willing to spend it on food. On the other hand, restaurants must also be reasonably priced. And, obviously, that city would also need experienced chefs, managers, front of house staff, and also enough people willing to start at the bottom - dishwashers, busboys etc. to start at the bottom and make the whole thing run.

The city would also need extensive transportation networks to supply the foods of the world to allow the ethnic places to make a decent approximation of foods from their native lands. I haven't talked about creativity amongst the chefs yet, but that is also important to me. The availability of a wide range of ingredients will help facilitate that, but the willingness of the dining public to try new things is also important. My most interesting city would also have great markets, cheesemongers, bakeries, wine merchants, etc.

Of all the cities I've been to, New York is really the only one that would meet all my criteria. London, to me as a North American, fails the reasonably priced test - so I haven't sampled it widely enough. Mostly I've stuck to curries and pub-grub. And, the most interesting place in the UK seems to be 80 km or so west of London. Paris? Fantastic french, reasonably priced at least in the low to medium range, great wines, markets, but perhaps not varied enough in non-French cuisines, and outrageously expensive at the high end, but of all the places I've been Paris might be no. 2. Barcelona - how can you not like Barcelona? Again, I think it lacks the variety of some of the other places, and that is perhaps the most important thing for me. But creativity is also very important, and Barcelona may be the tops in that regard, right now. Never been to Asia, so no comment, but HK and Singapore sound very appealing foodie-wise. Tokyo too.

Another city that I've heard good things about, but have never visitied is Sydney. Hell let's add Melbourne too - so Aussies, any votes for Sydney and/or Melbourne as the most interesting food city?

And a vote of potential for my city - Toronto. It has a lot of positives - among the most multicultural and liveable cities on the planet. Lots of ehtnic restaurants and markets. Reasonably priced restaurants and food in the markets, increasingly skilled (restaurant-wise) workforce. Good markets, butchers etc. But we still might not be the most interesting food city in Canada, let alone the world. First, no street food other than hot dogs. That bugs the shit out of me. Second, at the high end, with a few (and growing number of) exceptions, it's still pretty conservative. Up until about ten years ago the best joints were French or Cal-Ital and might have been located in a hotel. Maybe good restaurants, but interesting? Things are changing, but again, with a couple of exceptions, I don't think our high end joints (or the level under that even) are as creative as what I hear about from Barcelona or what was happening at WD-50 in New York or Trio, for example. And, one thing that differentiates us from Montreal perhaps, and Vancouver and the Island on the west coast - is that there doesn't seem to be a movement toward a defining local "Toronto" style of cooking focusing exclusively on local and seasonal ingredients. There are exceptions to this as well - most notably Stadtlander's place - but I don't see it to the degree I did on the west coast. Again, maybe that's coming. And, in some ways an interest in such a locally grounded cuisine goes against what I said my interests were above - variety in ingredients, products from all over the globe etc. But in some ways, getting the most from the ingredients that are immediately around you can definitely make for a very interesting food city - such as Bologna or San Sebastian.

Another place that perhaps should be in the mix, but I don't think has been mentioned yet is Lyon. I have never been, and perhaps it has lost some or even much of its lustre as an interesting food city. Anybody want to comment?

For me, a fascinating thread.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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The number of proponents of New York, Chicago, and New Orleans in the above posts seems to be more ethnocentric than ethno-inclusive...

You are just as likely to find a couple of ghetto cats eating pho in some dive soup shop as you are a couple of little old Jewish Ladies mowing through tacos and salsa at Taqueria Corona. Nobody here cares where it came from or who cooked it , it's all about the taste and the experience.

I think Jaymes hit the nail on the head with her comment about seaports, though. We do seem to be listing an inordinate number of them.

As my friend Fred Flames once said,

"New Orleans is a city with a low standard of living and an incredibly high quality of life."

Oy ve! I do miss Taqueria Corona. And I would love for someone to explain to me what the difference between "ethnocentric" and "ethnoinclusive" is supposed to be. :huh:

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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What's the one ethnicity of New York, jayt90?

Sorry, Pan, but I'm showing a bit of anti-American sentiment after the election...

I do have an objection to the number of large cities appearing on the thread:

It is difficult to get fresh, high quality food supplies into New York, Tokyo, Paris, etc. the same day they are prepared, caught, or harvested.

Fresh seafood, lake fish, herbs, vegetables, produce, can be easily found at the source, but are not as good when delivered to a large center having good restaurants, chefs, and clientele. The 'best' city for food would have better access than New York or any large megopolis, more like Lyons or Barcelona.

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What's the one ethnicity of New York, jayt90?

Sorry, Pan, but I'm showing a bit of anti-American sentiment after the election...

I do have an objection to the number of large cities appearing on the thread:

It is difficult to get fresh, high quality food supplies into New York, Tokyo, Paris, etc. the same day they are prepared, caught, or harvested.

Fresh seafood, lake fish, herbs, vegetables, produce, can be easily found at the source, but are not as good when delivered to a large center having good restaurants, chefs, and clientele. The 'best' city for food would have better access than New York or any large megopolis,  more like Lyons or Barcelona.

Or Rome.

May not qualify for this thread, but in terms of fresh produce, staying in Rome for a week with a friend who was born & raised there was a revelation in how a city should be run, food-wise. Every neighborhood has its market where stuff is trucked in daily, & not from that far away.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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What's the one ethnicity of New York, jayt90?

Sorry, Pan, but I'm showing a bit of anti-American sentiment after the election...

I do have an objection to the number of large cities appearing on the thread:

It is difficult to get fresh, high quality food supplies into New York, Tokyo, Paris, etc. the same day they are prepared, caught, or harvested.

Fresh seafood, lake fish, herbs, vegetables, produce, can be easily found at the source, but are not as good when delivered to a large center having good restaurants, chefs, and clientele. The 'best' city for food would have better access than New York or any large megopolis,  more like Lyons or Barcelona.

While the quality of materials available in a city like Barcelona is indeed mind-boggling and one of the reasons I consider Catalunya as one of the most interesting food areas in the world and possibly the most interesting, the quality available in cities like NYC and Montreal is also spectacular if one knows where to go. It is hard to find fresher seafood in any metropolitan area than can be found on Canal Street in NYC. Even the Boqueria in Barcelona is subject to distribution. The advantage the major urban areas provide is variety. (By thw way NYC is home to some pretty damn good local seasonal produce.) I will never have fresher seafood than I had on the dock in Sicily. It also showed good variety - but not like NYC or Barcelona. Once again, IMO variety is important as is quality of available ingredients and creativity.

An interesting food city to me is one I would love to go to for an extended period of time to shop, cook and eat. The eating would be of my own production in addition to the varied fare available in restaurants. Some cities like Bologna or Paris don't really need great variety. I imagine that can be said of many place I have less direct experience with as well.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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it might also be interesting to ask if there is one overwhelming ethncity of new yorkers on egullet--or just american egulleters in general.

"Overwhelming"? I doubt it.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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And, the most interesting place in the UK seems to be 80 km or so west of London.

What's the name of the place you're talking about?

I was thinking of the Fat Duck - not really sure how far from London it is (but for some reason 80 popped into my head - could be that Bray is actually somewhat further. My apologies if my laziness in not looking this up were misleading), and I haven't actually eaten there - the "seems to be" referred to my knowledge of the place from what I've heard about in the media and here at egullet. I'd certainly like to eat there!

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I do have an objection to the number of large cities appearing on the thread:

It is difficult to get fresh, high quality food supplies into New York, Tokyo, Paris, etc. the same day they are prepared, caught, or harvested.

Fresh seafood, lake fish, herbs, vegetables, produce, can be easily found at the source, but are not as good when delivered to a large center having good restaurants, chefs, and clientele.

Can't speak for New York and Paris, but resaturants in Tokyo pride themselves on having the freshest of everything. Even supermarkets and restaurants in Yokohama boast lettuce picked this morning, or chickens killed this morning.

Japan isn't very big, it doesn't take very long for it to get from its source to the heart of Tokyo.

Needless to say I haven't been everywhere but I have traveled a lot and no where have I seen freshness as important as it is Japan.

I vote for Tokyo because of the choice of restaurants available, from the highest of the highest to little stands that are set nightly with standing room only and absolutely everything in between. You name it Tokyo has it. The food quality and variety in just the department store basements alone would be in the top 10 world wide.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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all cities seem to boast something another doesn't have, which makes it very hard to distinguish one from another. for example, not so sure about now, but there was a wave of mongolian bar-b-q houses in london, there was (and probably still is) the noodle bar (like republic in union square). but eating out was not as accessible for me like it is now in new york. new york is great for eating and speaking from personal experience, i think new york is the most interesting.

tangiers, morocco was very interesting as was mombassa (but that was a long time ago).

so, i like to eat indian food in the taxi-deli's (home-made)??? i used to get the best fried salt fish in a mini cab station in catford, london (home-made), pommes-frittes (tangiers), sardines (portugal - about 12 for a dollar off the beaten path- home made), the list goes on and on and it's memories like this that make it near impossible to choose a most interesting place since the high standards that are set in from travelling.

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One thing I can say for certain is that I would be interested to eat in each and every one of the cities mentioned so far and many others too!

As far as American cities, I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Seattle, the heart of American Pacific-Rim Cuisine and home of some mighty fine produce and seafood.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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OK OK, everyone gets a chance to throw in their favourite (and, I suspect, the majority of people are suggesting the city they live in), so I’ll follow suit.

On all criteria, lovely Melbourne Australia hits on all counts (except a couple which I’ll note)

Top End. Incredibly good, and incredibly good value: the calibre of high-end is definitely on par with New York (though there are naturally far more truly top-end options available in much larger cities). But the restaurants, chefs, service, ingredients and venues are all spectacular, and rival the options of any city. And for much, much less cash.

Middle and Low End. You almost literally can’t walk a block without having wonderful options for café’s and pubs with spectacular food and drink. This category also probably covers off ‘fusion,’ as the choices you have in these venues are "typical Australian cuisine", which means everyone from everywhere has influenced it.

"Ethnic"/Variety. There’s pretty much no-one who is not here. Massive Asian population (pretty much every country, from Burma to Korea, is here in abundance) all cooking the real thing from home. Indisputably one of the world’s best Chinese restaurants in Flower Drum. The world’s second largest Greek city after Athens. Turkish and Middle Eastern is renowned. Spanish restaurants running riot. Italians flooded Melbourne after WWII, and haven’t stopped cooking as they do back home, ever since. Old-school English fare, French bistros in every suburb, requisite churrascarias, fresh seafood (and knowing what to do with it) is a birthright, it’s all here, and in abundance, and incredibly good value for the quality. Only complaint: decent Mexican cannot be found. (Haven’t tried Blue Moon, could be salvation.)

Creativity/Pushing Boundaries. I think it’s fairly well established that the city’s top restaurants are doing a reasonable job of keeping up, though I’ll concede probably not leading the way.

Wine. Beautiful Australian wines grown/produced right on Melbourne’s doorstep (literally hundreds of wineries within one hour’s drive, and nearly all with their own wonderful restaurants and food options), not to mention immediate access to the thousands of Aussie wines, which suit my palate.

Markets/Home cooking. Amazing fresh fruit, veg, cheeses, breads, and pretty much any ingredient for anything you’d ever want to cook. Think NY’s Union Square Market, with much much more variety of items from around the world, AND in essentially every major suburb.

Food Culture. A deep, deep passion for all this stuff is somehow genetically hard-wired into every Melburnian I know.

That’s my opinion. If you don't believe me, ask one A. Bourdain what he thinks of Melbourne.

If not Melbourne, then New York.

- kanga

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Having lived in four cities so far (Buenos Aires, London, New York, Barcelona) I have to go hands down with New York for its breadth, its quality and its general appreciation of food.

Barcelona has great quality and is now touted as one of the most creative, and the people here like to eat :biggrin: . However compared to NY it lacks the variety. I think there are very few places in the world (if more than one) were you can have outstanding quality of (just to name a few) Japanese, Korean, Chinese, American, French, Italian and a few others in a 10 mile radius like the NY Metro area does.

Silly.

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Australia is certainly on my list of places I would most like to visit. Interestingly, it wasn't because of its culinaria. That may have just changed.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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