Sometimes you don’t need anything fancy or gourmet; sometimes you just want a bunch of cheese, noodles, and tender pork.
If heaven exists, it probably looks something like the Nishiki Market in Kyoto: a seemingly endless street market filled with one vendor after another serving up delicious-looking food.
If it’s food-related, you’ll probably find it here. Aside from all of the enticing prepared food, there’s a smorgasbord of various meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables — it’s a one-stop shop for all things food.
I came here without anything in mind, basically just looking for whatever stall looked the busiest. And there was no contest: this bustling takoyaki stand was clearly where it was at.
For the uninitiated, takoyaki is basically a ball of dough with a piece of octopus in the middle, typically served as street food. They had a few different varieties, including one with cheese, which I had no idea was even a thing. Obviously that’s what I got.
I like takoyaki, though it’s never really been my favourite. Most of the ones I’ve tried have been one-note doughy, with a rubbery piece of octopus inside.
The ones here, on the other hand, were delightfully crispy on the outside, creamy and a little bit gooey on the inside from the cheese, and contained a surprisingly tender piece of octopus. The sweet sauce on top does a great job of balancing out the savouriness of the balls.
Takoyaki is an Osaka specialty, so I’ll obviously be getting them again when I go there, but they’re going to have a very, very hard time living up to this. Takoyaki perfection.
I’m starting to think that you can add haggis to literally anything, and that thing will be improved. Because so far I’ve had haggis with breakfast, haggis on a pork sandwich, haggis in puff pastry, and haggis in a burrito, and they’ve all been surprisingly delicious.
The latest haggis mashup? Haggis with grilled cheese (or a toastie, as it’s known in the UK).
If you’ve read the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, you’ll probably remember that there are several mentions of Lisbeth Salander’s meal of choice, Billy’s Pan Pizza.
You might have assumed that Stieg Larsson just made it up for the book, but nope — it’s a real thing. So of course I ate one.
There’s a dish they serve in Berlin called käsespätzle, and basically it’s spätzle — a German version of pasta that’s normally served as a side dish — cooked with soft fried onions and a ton of gooey, stringy, super-melty cheese. I think they fry the whole thing around, because there were brown crispy bits of cheese throughout.
There isn’t anything too interesting/unique at McDonald’s in Italy, though they do have something called “Le Ricche” fries, which is basically just a plate of fries with cheese sauce on them. You can choose between regular cheddar, and hot cheese. I went with the latter, though I have to admit that there’s something vaguely unappetizing about the phrase “hot cheese.”
I’m not going to post about every pizza I eat, because that would get boring pretty fast (what’s that? It’s already boring? Tough but fair!).
However, just in case you think that every pizza in Naples is a mind-blowing, life-changing experience, it’s probably good to know that mediocre pizzas exist here too (though to be fair, mediocre for Naples would still be pretty damn good back home).
Pizzeria Brandi claims to have invented the margherita pizza back in 1890 (though Wikipedia disputes that fact); true or not, a lot of people want to check the place out. It’s tourist overload. When I went, it was the most Asian people I’ve seen concentrated in one spot since coming to Europe.
Still, as jammed with tourists as it was (and it was jammed), how could I not go here? They invented the margherita pizza. If you love pizza and you don’t pay this place a visit, you’re doing it wrong.
If you’ll recall, a bunch of terrorist jerkfaces did their stupid jerk thing in Barcelona and kind of made me question my desire to stay in Europe.
Well guess what, jerkfaces? I’m still here. And boy am I glad I am, because I’ve been in Naples less than a day and can already tell that the food here is, in the immortal words of Guy Fieri, out of bounds.