I recently stumbled across the list of “100 Foods to Eat Before You Die.” The list is dismal to say the least. It looks like it took less than 2 minutes to complete — and it’s nothing more than a bunch of alphabetically, unconnected foods with no explanations and nothing to qualify its existence.
But it got me thinking. What about a list of foods everyone should eat that helped formulate their happiness and sustenance?
1. Pit Barbecue
Few topics inspire as much fiery passion as barbecue. The style may vary across the country, but two ingredients remain the same throughout: smoke and meat, a powerful combination that has enticed eaters since ancient times. Great barbeque is abundant throughout this land.
Where to get it: My favorite is Franklin’s Barbecue // Austin
Come early and be prepared to wait in line — they usually sell out in less than three hours.
2. Hot Fresh Bread
Trust me when I say this is one of the best experiences this world can offer. Unfortunately, most people buy bread in bags, or whole breads from a supermarket’s bakery, but hardly ever get to experience the joy of freshly baked bread and be able to feel it, pull at it, smell it, and burn your hands on it. Once you’ve experienced it … bread will never seem the same.
Where to get it: Your local bakery // Early in the morning.
They taste like pillowy clouds that have been dusted in sugar from heaven.
Where to get it: Café Du Monde // New Orleans
Eating a tamale is like opening the best Christmas present you’ve ever received. After you unwrap the corn husk you realize the masa dough is hiding an even more delicious filling. It’s a very beautiful — and delicious — thing. A good tamale is perfectly plump and filled with just the right amount of flavored meat.
Where to get it: Alamo Tamale Factory // Houston
5. Prime beef
Few places actually serve “prime” beef. Believe me when I tell you prime beef tastes — and feels — special. The abundant amounts of intramuscular fat make it so. There’s nothing like it in the world — not in France, not in Brazil, not in Australia.
Where to get it: Lobel’s // New YorkCity
6. Fresh Mozzarella
One can never get enough of fresh mozzarella. It’s irreplaceable — but so hard to find.
Where to get it: Casa Della Mozzarella // Bronx, NY
7. Chocolate Croissants
And to think there are better places to find them than in Paris.
Where to get it: Tartine Bakery // San Francisco
8. Georgia Peaches, California Strawberries, Iowa Corn, Maine Lobster, Washington Apples
You get the idea. And while you can buy most of these products at your local grocer — they are a shameful representation of what they would be if you experienced them in their distinct locale. I know this sounds obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true — or any easier to experience.
Where to get it: Georgia, California, Iowa corn, Maine, Washington … you get the idea
9. French Fries with Homemade Mayonnaise
Try it … you’ll see.
Where to get it: Your kitchen.
10. Great Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
There are so many brands of expensive, gorgeously packaged olive oil that it’s hard to believe most of it isn’t worth buying — half is adulterated with vegetable oil, the other half is stale. Even among few fresh oils, many are bitter and grassy when what you want is nutty and sweet. Trust me when I say that real balsamic is amazing, acidic and should be as concentrated as pancake syrup.
Where to get them: California bottles some of the best olive oil in the world. When it comes to balsamic vinegar, try Acetaia di Giorgio, exported from Modena, Italy. Yes, it is pricey but worth every penny.