Constant Craving: The Food I Left Behind

Every Monday is fish day in the school cafeteria. It’s not just any fish, either. It’s bony fish. Bony fish covered in red sauce.

I have to go through the sauce, peel out the spinal cord with my chopsticks and carefully pluck out stray shards of vertebrae.

Yesterday’s fish was especially bony, so the de-boning took a while. My co-teacher noticed my meticulous work.

“You can eat the bones,” she said. “The small ones are safe.”

I don’t eat bones.

That’s when I started daydreaming about sandwiches. More specifically, a Hoosier Hoagie from Dagwood’s in Bloomington, Indiana. Ugh. I just looked up the website and now I’m lusting after turkey, roast beef, and my choice of cheese. (In case you’re wondering, I would probably go for provolone or pepper jack.)

Dagwood's Sandwiches

Excuse me while I mop up my puddle of drool.

As I’ve moved from country to country, I’ve developed a love affair with food around the world. Food that I will have to be content with dreaming about, food that I should have appreciated more while it was within walking distance. Get ready for a smorgasbord of international goodness.

New Zealand

Kumara Fries & Aoli from Burger Fuel

Kumara Fries

These aren't the Burger Fuel fries, but they look kind of similar. Image by rfduck on Flickr.

Kumara is a type of sweet potato that was born to be made into fries, chips, or chups, depending on where you’re from. They’re orange and taste like crispy fried heaven. Best eaten with aioli, a mayonnaise-like sauce, only better.

You can get Kumara fries all over New Zealand, but I remember them best from Burger Fuel, an NZ-based burger chain. I usually paired these with a Chignition Pear, a surprisingly good chicken burger topped with pear and brie. Apparently I was one of the few fans, as the burger no longer seems to be on the menu.

Hell Pizza

Hell Pizza

Image credit: mlinksva on Flickr

Another NZ-based chain, this one serving up pizzas named for the 7 deadly sins. If you’re not feeling particularly sinful, there is also a gourmet range with names like ‘Pandemonium,’ ‘Mordor,’ and ‘Sinister.’ Hell Pizza’s pizzas come in a takeaway box that can be folded down to look like a tiny coffin. It’s not often that you find cute and morbid all in one place.

They used to do fantastic dessert pizzas, but I can’t seem to find them on the website. Either I have weird taste or New Zealand’s restaurants are making poor choices when they pare down the menu.

Australia

Banana Smoothie from Foreshores Café in Coffs Harbour

Foreshores Cafe

Steps from the beach on Harbour Drive, the main drag of Coffs.

Image Credit: Foreshores Cafe Facebook page

Fact: you will never have a smoothie this good again.

I think it’s just a mix of banana, vanilla ice cream, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg, but I have never been able to replicate it at home. The smoothie (in the US we’d call it a milkshake) comes in a tall metal cup, the kind that goes all beautiful and icy on the outside. I drank these like water in 2005. Delicious, delicious water.

The smoothies also go really well with their crispy wedges, served with sweet chili and sour cream for dipping.

Banana Smoothie

Tastes so much better out of that cup. Image Credit: Michael Lewkowitz on Flickr

 

England

That Thai Place in The Churchill Arms in Kensington, London

Churchill Arms

Image Credit: Ewan-M on Flickr

To the untrained eye, The Churchill Arms is a typical London pub on Kensington Church Street. An especially pretty one, but still – a pub. But go past the bar, under the copper pots and past the portraits of Churchill, and you will find a Thai restaurant. I don’t even know if it has a name – I just called it ‘that Thai place at The Churchill Arms.’

The food was cheap (around £6-8 per dish last time I checked in 2008), which was handy when I was a broke temporary expat in Notting Hill. It was also good. I hate to use the term ‘authentic Thai food,’ but that’s what it tasted like to me. I usually got the #11, a mix of chicken, vegetables and insane spice paste. The only downfall is that they’re always so busy it’s difficult to get a refill on the water that you so desperately need.

Ireland

Food for Thought in Galway

Food for Thought Galway

I like the look-point-order system at cafes. Image Credit: FFT facebook page

Even though I worked at the Mocha Beans coffee shop in Galway, I don’t rate it as highly as Food for Thought. It’s a vegetarian sandwich bar/café, hence the hippy-ish vibe to the name.

It was one of those places where I always knew I’d find something that sounded good. The day’s offerings included create-your-own sandwiches, casseroles, salads, bread and muffins. Everything was on display behind a glass counter, so you could see exactly what you were going to get. The curried chicken and vegetable quiche were always favorites of mine.

USA

I already mentioned Dagwood’s in Bloomington, but there are two more meals that I never miss when I’m stateside.

Cherry Kijafa Crepes at The Original Pancake House in Fishers, Indiana

Okay, so I like chain restaurants. The cherry crepes probably taste the same at every Original Pancake House across the nation, but that is a good thing. They are hot, sweet and perfect. Plus – the main ingredient is fruit, so they’ve got to be healthy, right?

Don’t answer that.

Cherry Crepes OPH

I would drop kick babies for one bite of these crepes. Image Credit: Original Pancake House Denver

 

Cheese Wheel St. Augustine

The perfect meal.

The Cheese Wheel in St. Augustine, Florida

Although I never actually lived in St. Augustine, my mom grew up there. Nearly every summer growing up, my family spent a couple of weeks visiting my grandparents. My main activities included getting sand in the crotch of my swimsuit, keeping a constant vigil for stray alligators and eating turkey ryders at The Cheese Wheel.

I’m not sure what a ‘ryder’ is, but it tastes so damn good. The best way to eat it is with an order of fries (cheese fries if you’re being sensible) and a large root beer with plenty of ice.

When I was a kid, there was a mini-farm in the back of the restaurant. While we were waiting for our food to come out, my sisters and I would mingle with the chickens and bunnies. We ran at them until one of the chickens inevitably turned on us and chased us back to the restaurant. Usually by then the food was ready, so it all worked out for the best.

Cheese Wheel

That's all you need to know right there. Image credit: augustine.com

 

Are you hungry yet?

I am, dammit.

 

13 Responses to “Constant Craving: The Food I Left Behind”

  1. When you leave Korea you will crave random things and probably write a post on how you should have appreciated it more while you were there. Minus the fish bones. Or maybe I am just saying that because thats how I felt about Thai food. The difference is, Thai food is delicious.

    • I already know I will – Korean food is delicious, too! Specifically dalkgalbi, hotteok (pancake stuffed with cinnamon sugar & walnut), and hodo kwaja (pastry shaped like a nut and filled with walnut paste). Sometimes the bony fish gets in the way of me appreciating what I’ve got right now.

  2. So many good things! I love that this is a list of great foods that I would actually eat, not “best braised artichoke” or something like that. I really love pizza, and I’ve often wondered just how far I’d be willing to go to try some truly great pizza. Looks like New Zealand is going on the list.

    • Hell pizza is worth a trip to New Zealand! (Though I suppose there are additional reasons to visit.) I think I liked the ‘Gluttony’ pizza best, but I’m not sure. You should probably try them all.

  3. Damn BurgerFuel, I miss you so much!! That aoli sauce….droooool…

    • I know it – I have to actively stop myself from thinking about the kumara fries/aioli combo. Sometimes I think it can’t possibly be as good as I remember, but I’m pretty sure it was.

  4. Great to hear from you. I’m amazed that you remember where you ate the different foods.
    Your experience Silk Market is the reason I HATE haggling over prices but I never expect someone to go ballistic on me. Freaky!

    • Sometimes food is just as memorable (if not more) than the destination! As for the silk market – it has made me approach every haggling situation with slight paranoia. Good to hear from you!

  5. I just found your blog and I really, really like it. I am also teaching in Korea right now (Incheon, through EPIK) so I know just what you mean by bony fish. Apparently, at my boyfriend’s school they even eat the spines! Shudder. The other thing I wanted to say is that Hell Pizza is AMAZING, and Burger Fuel was excellent too. I studied in Dunedin and Velvet Burger was my burger place of choice. Now I’m hungry.

    • Thanks for your comment, Rachel! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
      I think if they made me eat the spines it would be the day I opted out of school lunch.
      Also, I just looked at your blog AND the Velvet Burger website (hadn’t heard of it before) so now I’m hungry, too.

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