50 foods to try before you die

We've grilled a rack of world famous foodies to compile our bumper list of extraordinary things around the world to eat in your lifetime. But what would you add to the menu?
Meet the world's first celebrity butcher, discover where to eat one of the most poisonous fishes on the planet - without dying - find out why pintxos are better than ordinary tapas, track down the best fish and chips on Earth, get the culinary lowdown on the deep fried Mars bar, gird your loins for probably the best steak you'll ever taste and maybe, just maybe, consider consuming casu marzu, the contraband Sardinian delicacy of maggot-infested pecorino cheese. We warn you that some of the items on our mammoth collection of morsels are a deliciously, er, sinful. But, go on, tuck in


Pastrami sandwich, 

Katz’s Delicatessen,

New York

Yes, yes, oh yes! The sandwiches about which Meg Ryan seemed so, ahem, passionate in When Harry Met Sally really are that good. Thousands of visitors each week don't have to fake their enthusiasm for this Lower East Side institution's slow-cured corned beef, pastrami and brisket on rye. Tourists come to sit where Meg sat but genuine Nu Yorkers have been coming to Katz's (205 East Houston Street, New York, +1 (212) 254 2246) since 1888, scoffing down some 12,000 hot dogs and 2,500kg of corned beef a week.

Fugu, Tokyo

It's the fish that nearly brought down Homer Simpson. Fugu, deadly pufferfish, is Japan's most notorious foodstuff. Prepared by inexperienced hands, the tetrodotoxin poison in the organs, for which there's no known antidote, can bring on an agonising death by paralysis and asphyxiation. Prepared by one of Tokyo's few licensed experts, however, and it's a delicacy: almost, as it were, to die for. Takefuku restaurant in Ginza is renowned - for its safe preparation of the dish, we mean.

Custard tarts at 

Pastéis de Belém, Lisbon

There isn't a pastelaria in Lisbon that doesn't sell pasteis de nata, Portugal's sticky-sweet egg-custard tarts. But there's only one pastry vendor that sells the legendary pasteis de Belem. The exact recipe originated in the Jeronimos monastery at Belem before an enterprising baker got hold of it in 1837. The method is now a closely guarded secret but the results, happily, aren't. Families, tourists and workers flock to the tiled cafe (Pasteis de Belem: Rua de Belem 84-92, +351 21 363 74 23) daily to enjoy the highly addictive concoctions warm from the oven and dusted with cinnamon.

The tasting menu, El Bulli, 

Rosas, Spain

The promise of such culinary curios as "electric milk" and "unilateral scampi with matcha tea" puts the superstar chef Ferran Adrià's £300-a-head restaurant el Bulli (Cala Montjoi Ap 30, Roses, +34 972 150 457), in Spain, at the top of every serious foodie's "to do" list. The 32-course molecular gastronomy menu is palate-challenging stuff, but the real challenge is getting a table at the restaurant at all. How to get one of the 6,500 spots a year for which a million people apply? Top tip from an insider: book a Rosas seaside break or Barcelona city break for the quieter month of June and let the restaurant know you're on call. Cancellations have been known.

Fresh wasabi root, 

Izu peninsula, Japan

The strong-like-Vicks, acrid green stuff known as wasabi in the west is nothing like the fresh Japanese variety. The best hails from the clear streams in the foothills of Mt Amagi, on the Izu peninsula, where the gnarled wasabi rhizomes are harvested then, using sharkskin, grated on to your plate to order. The reward after a day's hiking in the mountains is dinner at the Shirakabeso Ryokan guesthouse (1594 Yugashima, Izu), where the owner, a respected wasabi authority, will serve your herb harvest with fresh sashimi, wild boar or even ice cream.

Lamb kebabs, 

Charikar, Afghanistan

It would take balls these days to holiday in Charikar, 70km from Kabul, just for the sake of a kebab, but balls is what you get at Uncle Kebabi's Kebabs. Lamb balls, to be precise, with mounds of fat and meat grilled over a streetside brazier. The intrepid food writer Stefan Gates calls it "the best kebab shop in the world". It's the heady mix of "fear, magic and food" you get from garlicky, charred lamb eaten with only AK47-wielding bystanders for company.

T-bone steak, 

Antica Macelleria Cecchini,

Panzano, Italy

He's the world's first celebrity butcher, he quotes Dante, is pals with Jamie Oliver and has turned the picturesque Italian hilltop village of Panzano, into a paese dei golosi - a village of gourmets. Dario Cecchini's cooking is all about the meat, specifically bistecca alla fiorentina - T-bones, to us - which you can buy to-go or eat in at his restaurant Solociccia ("Only Meat": Via XX Luglio, 11 Panzano, Chianti Firenze, +39 055 852020). Work the heavenly steaks off with a stroll down to the 12th-century Pieve di San Leolino church, where the views of Chianti will take your mind off your groaning belly.

White truffles, Alba,

Piedmont, Italy

The New York superchef Mario Batali isn't exaggerating when he compares the turf wars of Alba's white truffle season to a drug deal on Washington Square. It's life or death stuff from October and December when the Piemontese town teems with Armani-clad gastronomes in search of their €10,000/kg "white gold" fix at the weekly Mercato del Tartufo. Batali indulges at Il Vicoletto restaurant (Via Bertero 6, Alba, +39 017 3363196), a modest place seating just three dozen diners. "A plate of local tajarin [pasta] with butter and truffles can easily cost around 100 smackers," he warns. "So, buyer beware."

Joselito Gran Reserva ham,

Guijelo, Spain

Given that even Spanish plastic-wrapped supermercado ham is better than what passes as ham elsewhere in the world, you'd expect the best to be pretty special. El Bulli's Ferran Adria chooses Joselito Gran Reserva ham from the village of Guijuelo, near Salamanca, hard by the woods where the piggies gorge on acorns (the secret to the elusive nutty taste). The bars on Guijelo town square, a blast during festival season, serve it hand-carved in room temperature slivers.

Elisen gingerbread,

Nuremberg, Germany

While German cooking has its detractors for being incorrigibly stodgy, its baking isn't short of fans worldwide. At Christmas in the city of Nuremberg, an intersection on the ancient spice route and now home to one of the world's greatest Christmas markets, ovens fire up for gingerbread season. The best gingerbread are called Elisen, chock full of spices (as many as eight) and nuts (a minimum of 25%), then studded with whole almonds. Café Beer (Breite Gasse 79, Nuremberg, +49 911 230 84-0) in the Breite Gasse still bakes Elisen gingerbreadmen to a six-generation-old family recipe.

Deep-fried Mars bar,

Stonehaven, Scotland

"If you're not enjoying a deep-fried Mars bar, you're just not drunk enough." Or so says the daredevil food writer Anthony Bourdain in his A Cook's Tour. Since its creation in 1995 at the Carron Fish Bar in the fishing town of Stonehaven, near Aberdeen, the deep-fried Mars bar has come to symbolise the artery-clogging Scottish diet of urban myth. The surprise is it's actually sinfully tasty, and a snip at £1 a pop for one of the world's premier extreme-eating experiences.

Crayfish festival, 

Malmö, Sweden

They're good drinkers, the Swedes, in case you didn't know. Join in the fun at a crayfish party, highlight of the Swedish summer season and a rowdy affair of bawdy drinking songs, paper hats, plastic bibs, akvavit and the star of the show, boiled crayfish. The biggest festival of the year kicks off the annual Malmö festival and a week of sore heads.

Duck à la presse, 

La Tour d’Argent, 


La Tour d'Argent (15-17 quai de Tournelle, Paris, +33 1 43 54 23 31) has Notre Dame views, was the inspiration for the kids' film Ratatouille and has a wine list that weighs 8kg, but still it's famous as "that duck joint" (Frank Sinatra's words). The house's signature dish is canard au sang, a Challans duck roasted then crushed in a medieval-looking duck press in front of the diner. It's been on the menu since 1890 and, since then, each duck sold has been numbered. The million mark was passed in 2003. The culinary daredevil Marco Pierre White is impressed: "It's representative of a generation."

Kaiseki meal,

Kikunoi, Kyoto

Sorry, Tokyo, but Kyoto is Japan's leading food city. It's the birthplace of Japan's haute cuisine, kaiseki, and has provided inspiration to Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià, to name a few modern culinary greats influenced by it. Kaiseki, a cuisine that is all about harmony, beauty, subtlety and seasonality, served over a succession of perfectly judged courses, is the highbrow foodie's cross-the-globe-for-it culinary experience of choice. The master of the style is Yoshihiro Murata, the third generation chef-owner of Kikunoi (Kiammachi [off Shijokiyamachi] Kyoto, +81 075 561 0015), whose cooking Blumenthal describes as a "real inspiration" - high praise from a culinary innovator of his standing.

Yang Cheng Lake crab, 

Yang Cheng, China

Finding a genuine Yang Cheng, or hairy crab, among the counterfeit crustacea at Yatai Xinyang market, in Shanghai, is like finding a real Rolex among the fakes there: rare but thrilling. Most Shanghai-ites go for the surer route and take a journey to the crabs' home, the same-named lake, for the real thing. The food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit, of, advises eating the high yang crab with high yin ginger. "You'll catch a cold otherwise.

Banh mi sandwiches,

street stalls around Saigon,


"A symphony in a sandwich," sighs the chef and author of A Cook's Tour, Anthony Bourdain. Vietnam's banh mi, aka the Saigon sub or Vietnamese hoagie - as it's come to be known to some foreigners - packs French and Vietnamese culinary cultures into one delicious sandwich. From France, we have the baguette, mayonnaise and pâté; from Vietnam, there's pickled daikon, coriander, chilli and fish sauce. Fusion, not confusion.

New Nordic cuisine, 

Noma, Copenhagen

The reservation every food freak wants right now is at Noma (Strandgade 93, 1401 Copenhagen, +45 3296 3297), in Copenhagen, home of the so-called new Nordic cuisine. The photogenic poster boy for the culinary movement, Rene Redzepi, at the helm of the restaurant eschews fancy foreign muck such as truffles and foie gras in favour of truly Nordic ingredients. Expect musk ox from Greenland, 159 types of horseradish - yes, really - and wild herbs picked by the chef that morning.

Aw Taw Kaw food market, 

Bangkok, Thailand

"Thais are happiest in markets" declares the Aussie Thai food authority and sometime Bangkok resident David Thompson in a statement of the obvious to anyone who's ever been to Bangkok. His favourite in the Thai capital is Aw Taw Kaw, one of the world's best food markets. Sure, it's pricier than the local competition and isn't as cleanliness-shy as some tourists like their "authentic" markets to be, but the produce, particularly the fresh fruit, is dazzling. Go in April or May, the season for durian, south-east Asia's love-it-or-hate-it fruit with a taste like rich custard and a smell like old socks.

An In-n-Out burger, 

240 locations across the

US west coast

In a supersized fast-food world of nuggets, wraps and wedges, God bless In-N-Out restaurants for sticking to the basics of burgers, fries and shakes on a short menu that's barely changed since 1948. Fans of the family-run chain particularly love the secret menu (viewable online), the bible references at the bottom of the shake cup and the sightings of three-Michelin-star chefs such as The French Laundry's Thomas Keller, who says In-n-Out makes "the best fast-food hamburgers around".

Elvers, the Basque Country, 


You may have seen them in delis, packed into jars: little black dots for eyes staring out of spaghetti-like bodies. These are probably fakes, made of reconstituted fish. But bona fide elvers, baby eels, are considered a serious delicacy in Spain and can fetch £600 a kilo during the November to March season. Asador Etxebarri (Plaza San Juan, 1 Axpe-Marzana 48291,Atxondo-Bizkaia, +34 9465 83042), a sat-nav-resistant restaurant in the valley of Atxondo, an hour's drive from San Sebastian, is famous for serving the slippery little critters grilled over charcoal. No mean feat and the result is scrumptious and unforgettable.

Croque monsieur and a bellini,

Harry’s Bar, Venice

There's better food in Venice. There's certainly cheaper food in Venice, but Harry's Bar (Sestiere San Marco 1323, Venice, +39 041 528 5777) is one of those places you need to do once in your lifetime. Opened in 1931, Harry's was famous then, as now, for its sublime croque monsieur toasted cheese and ham sandwiches, peachy bellinis and authentic carpaccio. The cookery writer Simon Hopkinson concludes: "If you come away muttering that you cannot understand what all the fuss is about, then I can only think that Harry's Bar is just not for you."

King crab safari

Catch of the day, if you can face the sub-zero temperatures in Finnmark, in Norway's extreme north-east, is king crab. Net your own on safari with a local fisherman, pose for the obligatory you-should-have-seen-the-one-that-got-away photo, then return to shore for a feast of boiled crab, bread and mayo. Given that each beast can measure two metres claw-to-claw, one leg is all it takes to feed an adult.

Fish and chips, Whitby,

North Yorkshire

Fact: fish and chips don't taste good indoors, off a plate or eaten anywhere other than on a hard wooden bench in the driving rain. Britain's most awesome culinary creation reaches its apogee on the weather-battered coast of Whitby, in North Yorkshire, where both fish and rain supplies conspire to create the perfect F 'n' C experience. The Magpie cafe (14 Pier Rd, Whitby Y021 3PU, 01947 602 058), awarded five stars and serving the "best fish and chips in the world" according to the Sunday Times's often snooty food critic AA Gill, is probably a safe bet. Gill's favourite "table" is the harbour wall.

Sushi at Tsukiji 

Fish Market, Tokyo

Set your alarm clock for the world's largest piscine emporium: Tsukiji Fish Market should be on every Tokyo itinerary. Only thing is, the action kicks off at 5am - for the famous tuna auction, from which tourists are currently banned. What to do instead? Have a lie-in and catch up with the city's chefs and fishmongers at 10 in the morning when they pile into Rye Sushi restaurant, in the inner market, for a breakfast of cold beer and sushi. It's been serving bleary-eyed customers for 50 years.

Pintxos, San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian has more Michelin stars per capita than any other city but it's still its casual fare, the pintxos, Basque tapas, that gets foodies' pulses racing. A donostia txikiteo, or tapeo - essentially a bar crawl with both food and drinks - should take in the old town and square, where bars proliferate. Local celebrity chefs, the three-starred Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak, recommend the lamb's feet at La Viña and the anchovies at Bar Txepetxa.

Ceviche, Lima, Peru,

Outside its birthplace of Peru, ceviche - raw fish "cooked" in lime juice and chilli - is a fashionable dish beloved of carb-averse fashionistas. At home in Lima, it's not quite so ritzy. There, no-frills cebicheria shacks in every 'hood serve their fish specials with humble roundels of corn on the cob and sweet potato. Lima's best, in industrial La Vittoria, is Suan Kay (known locally as Chez Wong). It has no signage and no menu but still wins all the plaudits.

Pistachio baklava, Imam Cagdas,

Gazientep, Turkey

If the best baklava in Turkey are in the city of Gazientep, the best baklava in Gazientep are at Imam Cagdas (14 Uzun Carsi, Gazientep, + 90 231 2678). The family-owned kebab house in the bazaar district, established in 1887, is reason enough to venture to Gazientep in south-eastern Anatolia. Without it, the concrete blocks, modern malls and urban sprawl would not seem so sweet. Far prettier are the pistachio orchards that fringe the city and provide those all-important nuts.

Fermented shark meat, Iceland

It was the extreme eating challenge that saw even Gordon Ramsay crumble. Hákarl, Iceland's Viking dish of fermented shark, inspires F-words in almost everone but the locals, who see past the ammonia whiff to the dish's surprisingly mild flesh. Made by burying basking shark meat underground for three months, then hanging it to dry for five, hakarl forms part of the midwinter Thorrablot feast (alongside pickled ram's testicles) but can be found at supermarkets year round. A shot or five of brennvin, the local spirit, supplies courage.

Afternoon tea, the Ritz Hotel,


London's most aristocratic afternoon tea address retains its strictly anti-casual-wear door policy. The London Ritz (150 Piccadilly, +44 20 7493 8181) isn't a byword for luxury for nothing. Thirty-eight folding ones may be a lot to fork out for some sandwiches, a few scones and clotted cream but the details make it: waiters in tailcoats, silver-tiered cake stands and tinkly piano music. The Ritz is as tricky to get into as ever, even with five daily sittings starting at 11.30 in the morning, with the last at 7.30pm. Book three months ahead - or make do with Starbucks.

Brunch and a flat white, 

Bill’s, Sydney, Australia

Watch out New York. Sydney is taking over as the world's sexiest brunch spot. The leading light of the Sydney scene is Bill Granger. He may be from Melbourne but his easy-breezy restaurants (three in the city) are pure, sunny Sydney. Sydneysiders flock to the original Darlinghurst branch (433 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst, +61 2 9360 9631) daily for perfect scrambled eggs, a "flat white" coffee and ricotta hot cakes. They'll queue hours for a spot at the communal table. "I would never queue for anything in my life," sniffs food writer Jill Dupleix, "except a table at Bill's."

Casu Marzu, 

Sardinia, Italy

In order to impress a certain kind of epicurean, an ingredient should first be likely to make everybody else gag. Casu marzu, Sardinia's contraband, maggot-infested pecorino, has the power to do just that. The "delicacy", whose name literally means rotten cheese, is produced by introducing live insect larvae into the cheese to promote fermentation. Tom Parker Bowles, author of The Year of Eating Dangerously, warns that "the effects of eating it aren't known for a year". Locally it's considered an aphrodisiac, possibly because, if you're up for casu marzu, you're up for anything.

Ice cream, Cofea, 

Palermo, Sicily

Every town in Italy has its passeggiata, an evening jaunt through the town square, gelato in hand, Gucci sunnies in hair. But only in Sicily will you find the morning ritual of congregating for a sweet brioche filled with coffee ice cream or dunked in coffee granita. The island is renowned as the birthplace of ice cream, where ancient Greeks and Romans would flavour snow from Etna and later Arab conquerors would freeze their sherbets. Cofea (Via Villareale 18), in Palermo, is considered among the island's best gelaterie.


Galicia, Spain

We'll never know what possessed the first person to eat a barnacle, but the hideous looking crustacea are easy on the palate if not on the eye. Percebes, or goose barnacles, thrive on the rocks in the fierce and freezing gales that batter Galicia's Costa de la Muerte, the Coast of Death. Gathering them is, suitably, a death-defying business. You'll find percebes at Madrid's best tables at up to £100/kg but they're finest boiled in seawater (for the length of time it takes to recite the Lord's prayer) and consumed by the water whence they came.

First flush Darjeeling tea,

Darjeeling, West Bengal,


There's nothing quite like a nice cup of tea. The British knew that, which is why, when they ruled India, they would decamp from fetid Calcutta (now Kolkata) to the cool clear air of Darjeeling's hill stations in the heat of summer. It's still possible to enjoy a classic English afternoon tea in view of the terraced plantations in the Himalayan foothills, although the local schoolkids' choice of hot chai and fresh jalebis at the local market is also rather agreeable.

Ant’s eggs, Mexico

Here's a bush tucker challenge with an Aztec heritage. Ant's eggs, or escamoles - grandly called "insect caviar" by some - are harvested from agave plant roots, then boiled until they resemble cottage cheese. Mexico City's ladies who lunch love them, judging by the crowd at El Cardenal (Avenida de las Palmas 215, Lomas de Chapultepec, Mexico City 11000, +52 55 2623-0401), a restaurant specialising in the cuisine of Hidalgo and a hot fave of the Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers. "The tortillas and salsa verde are enough to get you there, but no one makes better escamoles," she says.

Peking duck, 

Quanjude, Beijing

Five million customers a year jockey for space at the Quanjude flagship in Beijing (14 Qianmen West Street, +86 10 6304 8987). The restaurant, nearly a century and a half old, is a veritable machine, housed over seven floors, seating 2,000 guests, and with two million ducks (not literally) flying out the door each year. The recipe, bought off an Imperial Palace chef during the Qing dynasty, calls for wood smoke from apricot and peach trees for its fragrance and delivers crisp moreish skin with a lustrous lacquered finish.

Chicha, Bogota, 


Spit or swallow? Chicha, the fermented maize drink prepared with human saliva gives a new meaning to the phrase. The word today refers to any fermented homebrew, but chicha was originally made by the Incas who glugged it at religious festivals. They'd grind the maize then moisten it in their mouths to set the enzymes in their saliva to work on breaking down the starch. Unbelievably, it's back in vogue and sold in trendy bars around Bogotá.

Braai, Cape Town,

South Africa

The Aussies and the Yanks don't own barbecue. South Africa, with its braai tradition - the word means "roasted meat" in Afrikaans - also lays claim to being the best country in the world for outdoor cooking. Why? Because it has game in such abundance - including kudu, impala and zebra - and such fantastic panoramas to act as backdrops to these admittedly often still beery and blokey - not to mention bloody - events. Cape Town's best braai spot is the Silvermine Reserve with views of Table Mountain.

Fish head curry, 

Little India, 


As a melting pot of culinary cultures (Indian, Chinese and Malay) Singapore has many contenders for its national dish. The nominally Indian fish head curry rightly claws votes from the more obvious chilli crab. Why? Because it sums up the fusion of cuisines that defines Singaporean cuisine, being geared towards both Chinese eaters (who relish the gelatinous, bony bits) and Indians, with their nose for spices. Muthu's Curry restaurant (138 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218591, +65 6392 1722) in Little India claims to have invented it.

Barbecue, Kansas City

All the other famous US barbecue states - Tennessee, the Carolinas and Texas - will be mighty ornery to see Kansas singled out but it's to Oklahoma Joe's (11950 S Strang Line Rd, Kansas City, +1 913 782 6858), in Kansas City, that we turn for a smokin' 'cue experience. It's not just the pulled pork, the brisket, or the ribs so soft they fall off the bone that count, it's also the ambience. Housed in a gas station with a liquor store next door, this is one pure slice of Americana that will be remembered as far more than a pit stop.

Macaroons, Pierre Hermé,


Pierre Hermé literally wrote the book on macaroons (Macaron, Pierre Hermé, Agnès Viénot Editions, 2008), those delicately scented kisses of almond, egg white and sugar. Why, his macaroons have even featured on the TV teen drama Gossip Girl. Each year, Hermé introduces two new collections of its confections, in the manner of a couturier, with wacky flavours such as foie gras and olive oil alongside the more mainstream. Travellers on a shoestring will find Hermé's bijou St Germain flagship (72 Rue Bonaparte, Paris, +33 1 43 54 47 77) to be one of the few foodie temples in Paris that you can can leave with change from a fiver.

Steak at a Parrilla, Buenos Aires, 


Argentina, land of gauchos and grass-fed cattle, is all about steak. On Buenos Aires' backstreets lurk the finest parrillas, grill restaurants that specialise in juicy, bloody slabs of cow cooked medium-rare - and not a second beyond - over the coals. La Brigada (Estados Unidos 465, Buenos Aires, +54 11 4361 5557), in the capital's St Telmo district, is the locals' tip for both its rib-eyes and its supposedly light starters of crispy lambs' chitterlings and sweetbreads.

Tandoori lamb, Bukhara, 

New Delhi

Get stuck in, is the injunction at New Delhi's three-decade-old Bukhara (ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, +91 11 2611 2233), many times included in the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards. There's no standing on ceremony here as vast pillowy naans, marinated kebabs and huge bowls of lentils are delivered to the clunky table and bench set-up where there's not a knife, fork or napkin in sight - not even for Bill Clinton and friends. Everything's cooked in the tandoor there including the hero dish - whole leg of lamb. No reservations.

Po’ Boys, New Orleans, 


As New Orleans rebuilds itself post-Katrina, a fierce civic pride in the city's signature dish, the po' boy, is building too. The po' boy, named after the striking railroad workers it was invented to feed, is a French baguette stuffed with food that historically came cheap: oysters from the bayous and french fries with gravy. The best are given medals at the newly inaugurated annual Po' Boy Festival, held in New Orelans in November.

Ras-el-hanout, Djemaa el Fna, 

Marrakech, Morocco

The Ziploc bag of unidentifiable powder probably won't win you smiles at customs but it will provide highs for months to come. Culinary highs, that is. Ras-el-hanout, Morocco's flavouring blend of anything from 10 to 100 spices, makes tagines and couscous really sing. The best place to get the mix is at the vast Djemaa el Fna market in Marrakech, where it is sold unground to be prepared to order for maximum freshness. Those rumours about the best blends containing hashish? Untrue.

Noodles at Ramen Jiro, 

Tokyo, Japan

While the tourists explore the starry, sophisticated side of Tokyo dining, food bloggers and geeks and assorted ramen freaks get down and dirty at Ramen Jiro (3-12-1 Takadanobaba, Tokyo), the grease-splattered noodle joint in Minato-Ku ward. In a city of noodles, Ramen Jiro's USP is the quantity of pork fat and garlic in the broth. Combined with homemade wheat flour noodles, it's barely digestible to the uninitiated - which seems to be part of its appeal to the ramen-initiated. Queues form half an hour before opening time.

Suckling pig, Cebu, 

the Philippines

Little known fact: the national dish of the Philippines is paella. That's three centuries of Spanish rule for you. But the dish that really inspires the most passion in the country is lechòn de leche, a baby pig roasted over an open fire. Served at one of the country's best restaurants, The Lighthouse (Gaisano Country Mall, Cebu City, +63 32 231 2478), with a side dish of pickled green mango, red onion and chilli banana hearts, it's the favourite dish of the regular visitor and Michelin star chef Jason Atherton. He's not such a fan of one local custom, however: "Whoever earns the most, it's their job to pay."

Lobster rolls,

Kennebunkport, Maine

It can be tiring work, eating. Hence the appeal of the lobster roll, the so-called lazy man's lobster. All the picking and scraping's done for you, leaving just the juicy flesh - no shell - to pile on to a toasted hot dog bun then slather in hot butter. Shack season, from May to October - when the lobsters are fished - sees the 100-mile stretch of Route 1 between Kennebunk and Rockport spring to life. Driving north, Kennebunkport and its celebrated Clam Shack (On the bridge, Kennebunkport), is the first key stop on the lobster-roll trail.

Sea urchins on the beach,

Puglia, Italy

Ricci di mare - sea urchins - are a mainstay of seaside eating up and down the Puglian coast. To get them at their freshest, simply do as the locals do and slurp them down au naturel on the beach. The light and foamy edible roe inside is salty, subtle and has an unforgettable taste of the sea. A post-prandial double espresso, cigarette or gelato is authentic but optional.

Rocky Mountain oysters, The Fort, Denver, Colorado

They're not as plain-talkin' in the wild west as you might think. Too squeamish to ask for bison testicles, the mountain men prefer to order "Rocky Mountain oysters" or, even more quaintly, "small bites" of buffalo meat. At The Fort restaurant (19192 Hwy 8, Morrison, +1 303 697 4771), a kitsch-as-heck replica trading post in Denver, Colorado, off-cuts of every stripe and rediscovered western dishes such as rattlesnake cakes are the order of the day. The great cookery writer Julia Child's favourite meal here was roasted marrowbone, referred to as "prairie butter".