Top Ten Non-Events

August 7, 2007 at 1:54 am (Uncategorized)

I am getting really tired of ‘Top Ten’ lists. As someone on my Treble Cone famil said on the way to the airport, “Any restaurant that puts ‘world famous’ in its name needs to be avoided at all costs.” I am starting to think it’s the same with anything that makes it onto a Top Ten list. Just look at the pop charts. And the bestselling book lists. Pretty woeful stuff.

And now has released its list of Top Ten Foodie Cities. Yawn. The list is immediately identified as suspect by its US-centrism: the top three places are held by US cities. New York (okay, you can get anything in NYC, so it stands to reason some of the world’s best food might be found there), Las Vegas (really? Really?? Really???), and Los Angeles (whatever). I’ve had some decent food in America over the years, most of it in New York, but to date none of my best meals have been there. Not even close. I loved Paris Commune, and an Argentinean beef restaurant in Soho, and the Pie Shop, and a daily slice at Ray’s, and hot dogs from street vendors, each memorable in their own way for their own reasons, but they weren’t my best meals ever.

Sydney makes it into the Top Ten by taking out the final spot, but the institutions listed, with the exception of Billy Kwong’s, are really not the reason why this is a great foodie destination. And where oh where is Tokyo on the list? And the Tokyo fish markets? The food in Tokyo consistently blew my mind. And what about Bangkok? Thai food in general is smote off Forbes’ radar, which is a fairly big omission, if you ask me, because Thai food is sublime. True, though, much of the great food I experienced in Thailand was off the beaten track, on buses and in small towns. It was harder to find the real deal in Bangkok, so perhaps that’s why it didn’t make the list.

It’s always possible to pay a lot of money and get a good meal. Maybe what I don’t like about these lists is they often cite elitist, expensive restaurants where most people will never, ever eat. The fact that it is possible to eat an exceptional meal in London does not make London one of the world’s best foodie destinations. It makes it a city where money talks. The truth is, a lot of the food in London is appallingly bad. Unless you’re cashed up on Pound Sterling, chances are you’ll be running to the bathroom at Pizza Express to scream and cry into your hanky about just what your money will buy. Having said that, a cheap curry in Brick Lane is one of life’s simple pleasures.

I think Sydney probably is one of the great foodie cities in the world, but not for the same reasons as I think it’s a great foodie city because of the awesome variety and the overall high standard of the produce. It’s a great foodie city because you can get truly excellent Italian, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Spanish, Indian, French, Korean, Vietnamese and so on – the options abound. It’s a great foodie city because people in Sydney are genuinely curious about food, and we eat a more varied diet than most other city dwellers of the world. And it’s a great foodie city because it’s possible for just about everyone to eat out, and eat well. Our local Thai joint at the ferry wharf, Chat Thai, is the only place we’ve found in Sydney that sells these incredibly tasty – I would go so far as to call them a taste sensation – spicy sausage morsels like the ones we had on a bus in Thailand. The bus stopped in the middle of nowhere, and vendors piled on selling a variety of cheap snacks. One of these was a vermicelli pork sausage wrapped around a skewer. Chat Thai’s don’t have the noodles inside, but the flavour is all there. They taste like Thailand, and that is good enough for me.



  1. Llew J said,

    The trick with the thai sausage balls is that the pork is fermented – that’s where the uniqe completion of thai flavours enters the equation: Hot, Sour, Sweet, Salt – always present, always providing an explosion, with a subtle surprise….mmmm!!! E-Sarn sausage from Chat Thai for dinner tonight…

  2. doctordi said,

    As you know, Llewie, I had a different menu planned for dinner last night, but yes, we have a date with Chat Thai’s E-Sarn sausage in the VERY near future…

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