Sometimes, my family and I joke, it seems that our travels are less about seeing places, and more about eating our way across the world. If you were to ask my parents about visiting Hiroshima, they'd talk about the okonomiyaki they ate there (unlike the okonomiyaki from the Chubu region, Hiroshima is famous for its layered okonomiyaki involving ramen noodles). Heck, I have no idea what their other highlights were there. All over Japan, my Dad was a HUGE fan of the vending machine coffee "shooters".
For me, memories of a place and what I ate are intrinsically linked.
Japan: I still dream about the fried chicken (karaage) from Senri (2004-2006) in Sakashita (My then-boyfriend, now-husband and I wrote most of the Tono section for this guide back in 2005. That "highly recommended bit about Senri's chicken? Yeah. That was me, half a decade ago), a local restaurant in my village. Eating fugu (2005) in Osaka and udon noodles on Shikoku (2006). Yakiniku in Ena (2004-2006). Fresh tofu in Kyoto (2006).
Thailand: A whole deep fried fish with a sweet chili sauce eaten beachside at a restaurant with four tables. The other three were occupied by white guys meeting erm... well... prostitutes. I can understand why they chose that place for their dates (do you call it that if it's really a business transaction?). Awesome location. Great food. Green curry bought from a 7/11 that burned my mouth. Eating fresh rambutan out on our balcony while watching the waves of the Bay of Bengal crash in. (2005)
England: Marks and Spencer's sweets (2006). The worst sandwich ever at Harrod's (1998). Chicken Kiev in Covent Garden (1998). Scrumpy Jack (2003). Real McCoy's Cheese and Onion crisps (2005). My search for the Lion bar (1994), which was problematic because I couldn't remember what it was called and resulting in me buying the better part of 20 + chocolate bars in an effort to find it. Thornton's Fruit and Nut Toffee (2003)
Wales: My first ploughman's lunch with Stone Soup (Avebury, The Circle Restaurant, 1994). It's a vegetarian restaurant, and I didn't eat veggies back in the day. It was my first foray into meatless meals. It was surprising to realize that I wasn't going to keel over and die.
Germany: when I was 7, I remember my uncle Steve ordering for my mother, and she ended up with fried bologna. She was not amused (1987).
Hawaii: the crispy sushi roll from Roy's (2007) and the butter poached lobster at Alan Wong's (2009). Our passion fruit mousse filled wedding cake (2009). Big Island Candies Chocolate Covered Coconut Brownies (2005)
St. John, NB: Saltwater Taffy (1986) and Pete's Frootique (1986-1989)
Calgary, AB: Skor Fudge (1994) from this little spot in Stony Creek. On a day trip from there, we also had the best ice cream ever.
Salt Spring Island, BC: Blackberry port (2007), the Fishery's Smoked Salmon Mousse (2007).
Victoria, BC: The Sunday brunch at the Empress (1984), the smell of my Nana's bread baking in the oven (1984-1994), Dolly Mixture (also courtesy of my grandparents)
Church Point, NS: The lobster dinner at Université Sainte-Anne (2003). Pure carnage. Red lobster carcasses everywhere.
What about you? Is there a food you strongly associate with a place?