There are two things every traveller has in common: We eat and sleep.

Though the places we sleep in are often quickly forgotten, food will be at the heart of the stories that, years later, we tell about our travels. Even - perhaps especially - the bad food.

That's why this week Herald Travel's writers are looking at the world from their plate.

I've eaten in one or two nice restaurants around the world and, truth be told, they're much of a muchness. The wines are great, the entrees fabulous and, yep, the truffle oil is divine. But that high-end grub could have been served pretty much anywhere in the world - from Lisbon to London or New York to Newmarket.


For me, the memories that stand out are the culinary experiences that occur a few rungs down the financial ladder.

My three most memorable eating experiences:

1.) While walking the Cinque Terre, my group of keen Kiwis added an extra leg to the journey, hiking in along a rough track through a coastal forest. There, on the edge of the forest, we came across an old bloke in a coffee kiosk, smoking cigarettes and making perfect cappuccino. We were surely the only customers he had all day. He could have been a character from a Wim Wenders film.

Later in one of the villages we had tomato and basil bruschetta. That's tomato and herbs on toast, where I come from. Simply made, simply served and simply perfect.

2.) Austria is meat-eaters heaven. They serve the perfect pork knuckle, a hunk of meat on the bone, much like the fistful of goodness Obelix can be seen tucking into during the feast scene that concludes every Asterix book.

On one Alpine ski trip, we found ourselves in a brewery with a stripped-down menu - it had two things on it: a pork knuckle (served with with dumpling and sauerkraut) or a whole roast chicken (served, I think, with potato).

The vegetarian in our group unwisely asked the waiter about meat-free options. He grunted at her and finished taking everyone else's orders.

When our meals came out, the earnest vegetarian had a plate of dumpling and sauerkraut (the side dish to the pork knuckle) unceremoniously dumped in front of her. (To think: we sometimes fret about the standard of customer service experienced by visitors to New Zealand.)

Our meaty meals were delicious.

3.) For a couple of bucks, local fishermen on the Gili islands, off Indonesia, will throw a whole fish on a charcoal grill while you sit on the beach sipping one of the awful local beers.


We have one copy of Lonely Planet's Food Lover's Guide to the World. To go in the draw, email before Friday. We'll look favourably upon entries that share a top tip on travel food.