Favorite foods (Part 3)

This item appears on page 15 of the April 2022 issue.

Joaquin Ho of Orlando, Florida, asked, “What dishes or types of food have you enjoyed most on your travels, and what was it that you liked about each?” We shared subscribers selections in the January and February issues, and here are the remainder.

My first piece of business when arriving in France is to buy a round of Camembert au lait cru (raw milk Camembert). This Camembert is not pasteurized. I always open the lid and press the middle to make sure I get a soft, ripe, aged cheese.


I eat a large wedge as soon as I can, of course, but storing the rest is always a problem. I prefer to leave it out on a counter, but the smell does pervade the room even when it’s packaged in multiple containers and wrappers. You KNOW when someone has one of these cheeses.

And I don’t like refrigerating it. Besides, it smells up the whole refrigerator if I do. If possible, I store it on the outside ledge of a window.

My best solution is to eat the whole thing as soon as possible and then resist buying another one for a few days.

Kitty Chen Dean
New York, NY



My husband and I like going places we’ve never been before, seeing things we’ve never seen before and eating and drinking things we’ve never tried before.

Aboard the Saga Sapphire on a cruise with Saga Cruises in 2013, we tried Eton mess. This British dessert is traditionally served at Eton College’s annual July 4 prize-giving celebration. It consists of strawberries, sugar, heavy cream and baked meringue. It is delicious!

Marcia Ritter
St. Louis, MO



When visiting other countries, I look for places where you can savor the local specialties. In Europe, one can go to a farmers’ market and in Central America and Mexico, a tianguis (outdoor market). In Asia, there are night markets all over — in TAIPEI, Taiwan, for example. In general in Taipei, it is pretty hot and humid in the summer, and the best time to eat outdoors is at night when it’s cool.

When I was in Taipei in 2016, I purposely reserved a hotel that was close to a night market. I generally don’t stay up late and don’t eat after 7 p.m. because I don’t want to go to bed with a full stomach, but in Taiwan I had to make an exception.

Though there was no seating, there were many stalls selling food. I couldn’t possibly sample everything in one night, so I resisted the temptation of eating at the first stall. Instead, I looked for one where there was a line of people so I could eat what the locals most liked. Since I spent several nights in the same hotel, I had opportunities to try tasty food at many stalls, especially by traveling to different neighborhoods’ night markets.

Each meal cost a couple of dollars, so it was pretty inexpensive, and since there were quite a lot of varieties, I didn’t get tired of it. (And in case anyone is wondering, I never had diarrhea afterward.)

My favorite food item was the “small dragon bun,” which is not really a bun but a kind of dumpling. A good small dragon bun is filled with pork filling and meat broth. The dumpling wrapping should be thin — but not so thin that the broth leaks out. It’s like eating a small pouch of meat soup. It is usually accompanied by ginger in vinegar.

Din Tai Fung (US website: dintaifungusa.com) is a pretty famous restaurant chain in Taiwan for small dragon buns, and I went to the one in the mall at the Taipei 101 tower. My meal was very good.

Another notable food I ate was called “stinky tofu.” I enjoyed it, but, I have to say, it is an acquired taste and only for the adventurous.

In SINGAPORE, where I lived from 1992 to 1997, they have hawker centers where one can try the ubiquitous Hainanese chicken rice and char siu (barbecued pork) as well as Indian food and Malay food, not to mention juice stands, where you can buy mixed fruit juice in whatever combination you like. Each hawker center pretty much sells the same kind of food as other hawker centers.

When I was living there, Singapore was expanding its mass transit system. With that came the indoor, air-conditioned food courts at some of the train stations. One of my favorite places was the Yishun MRT Station food court. There was a stall that just sold soups. One, loosely translated from Chinese, was called “old fire soup,” which is soup that is cooked for a long time, infusing it with the flavors of the ingredients.

There are many kinds of old fire soups, like “watercress and pork bone soup” and “dry bok choy and pork bone soup.” One of my favorites was “meat bone tea,” which is not really a tea but a soup with pork bones and Chinese herbal medicine ingredients.

I would say you haven’t truly experienced Singapore unless you try chili crabs or curried fish heads, especially in the restaurants on the east coast. Chili crab is pretty meaty and the sauce tasty, although it is quite spicy.

Initially, I thought there was nothing to eat in a fish head, but these heads, in a thick, savory coconut-flavored curry sauce filled with vegetables such as eggplants and “lady fingers” (okra), were enormous, with plenty of flesh to eat.

Many Asians know how to eat a fish head. They will savor the fish eyeball and every other part surrounding the eye sockets. My favorite part, the only part that is easy to eat, is the cheek. My friends eat each part, and soon there is nothing but a pile of bones. Fish heads are my parents’ favorite.

Another notable dish is water spinach with belacan sauce (a fermented shrimp paste). Water spinach is readily available in Chinatowns, as is belacan sauce. I don’t cook this at home because it is quite pungent and the smell can last awhile, but I always order it when I go to Asia, particularly Taiwan or Malaysia.

Dim sum (a range of small dishes) in HONG KONG is outstanding. You can go to a Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre (phone +852 2508 1234, www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/plan/traveller-info/visitor-centres.html) for suggestions on dining places.

My go-to dim sum dishes are always wonton noodle soup and lai fun (a type of rice noodle) with roasted goose.

Stanley Mui
Woodland Hills, CA



Many, many years ago while working out of Topeka, Kansas, for Braniff Airways, I told my friend Glen, who was the postmaster there, that I was off to Buenos Aires for vacation. Fortunately for me, he had relatives living in B.A. and wrote a letter of introduction for me, upon receipt of which two brothers invited me to dine with them at a first-class restaurant, “La Estancia.”

While beef is big in B.A., the pièce de résistance was a large plate of langostinos (freshwater prawns) served cold, with mayo, as an appetizer.

I don’t recall the rest of the menu, but what does stand out to me was my diving into this entirely new, for a Midwestern boy, dish. I’ll never forget it nor the kindness of the two brothers hosting me.

William O'Connell
Mission Viejo, CA



I’m a dedicated Anglophile and, in pre-COVID days, used to spend a month in the UK every year, usually in a house exchange.

Early on in my travels I discovered sticky toffee pudding. Each visit I would order it several times, trying to decide whether it was best topped with ice cream, clotted cream or whipped cream. (Clotted cream really is the best topping!)

Though I’ve been on a vegan diet for several years now, during recent trips, when I saw sticky toffee pudding on the menu, I would be tempted to order it, usually breaking down and doing so at least once during the month-long visit!

Dee Poujade
Portland OR