There were even the strange things which somehow defied their first impressions. In China, it was the plate of intestines Lao Song ordered which could best be described as rubbery, nursing-home gym socks. In Germany, the sausage stand's finest currywurst. Sweden was an impressively varied use of beets as well as those beloved tubes of cheese (and fish roe). Japan, as you might imagine, beat them all with the truly delicious horse sashimi, a staple of the mountainous regions (sorry, Judy).
Though we have had some amazing food back in the US -- a legendary meal at Bar Tartine in San Francisco, a birthday dinner at Fruition in Denver -- there is something so right about the food in every place we'd been. It's a strange thing about the United States that we have so many different foods, just as it is a miraculous thing about the US that we have so many different kinds of people. Still, I sometimes longed, when abroad, to have some treasured food to share with others. The hot dog, as authentically-American as it is, is a somewhat depressing dish to bring to the world potluck, after all.
Every year, we hosted a special Thanksgiving dinner, and it became clear that the newly-added dishes with local flair (think haw sauce instead of cranberry, or miso butter on the sweet potatoes) took the favorite among the guests. Still, we came home with thousands of new taste-buds, a book full of chicken-scratched recipes, a significantly more open mind, and at least one new category of taste (Japan's umami).
Tell me, what new food cravings have you come back with from your travels? Do you think I'm wrong and the US does have something significant to offer the global table? Please share!