My Foodie 40: A food bucket list to dine for
This year, I celebrate (ahem) a *significant* birthday. Yes, there’s nothing that makes you feel older than refreshing your About Page and starting a sentence with the phrase “I have twenty years experience…” to make you feel the passing of time.
But what such a birthday gives me (apart from the foreboding realisation that I am - statistically speaking - closer to the grave than the cradle) is a perfect excuse. I can make a plan that’s totally crazy simply because I’m turning 40.
So I’ve put pen to paper (or, really, fingers to keyboard) and made a list of the 40 food experiences I want to have to mark the occasion of my birthday.
My list isn’t just about eating and drinking. It’s also about cooking, foraging, shopping, experimenting and learning about food. Some of the items on the list are somewhat vague ideas about a place to eat (see 33 or 11). Others, like number 8, are alarmingly specific.
Some of these are simple tasks that I just need an excuse to do. I could go out tonight to knock over 25, and there’s nothing stopping me from doing 22 this weekend. Some of them are about people I want to eat with. A good dozen of these can only be experienced in far flung locales and these ones will need considerable planning, not to mention time, effort and money to achieve. But isn’t that the point of a bucket list?
The Foodie 40 timeline
In an ideal world I would knock these all over at the same time as I complete my fortieth trip around the sun, but I think that I have been far too ambitious with some of these. Number 30 is probably not simply a year-long endeavour, after all. So I think I’ll give myself five years to achieve all these.
My Foodie 40
Have afternoon tea at the Ritz in London. - To experience the elegance of a bygone era.
Sip limoncello after walking along cliffs near Positano. - I’ve had an image in my head of doing this ever since hearing people talk about doing it in 2003.
Eat adventurously at a sushi train in Tokyo. - No playing it safe when choosing the plates even though I won’t understand any of the words around me.
Hunt for truffles. - In France, if possible, but there are Australian experiences I’d love to try.
Make my own salami. - Worth a shot, but I probably need to do number 28 first.
Eat at Noma. - Obligatory reference to world’s best restaurant.
Have noodles in a Singapore night market. - I will also accept dumplings for this one. Both is always preferable.
Catch my own seafood feast. Cook it over a picturesque fire assembled from spontaneously collected driftwood. Eat with fingers or from charmingly rustic enamel plates. - Also known as live out the seafood pages from every Tasmanian cookbook I’ve ever read.
Taste insects. - Because the future is coming and they are part of it.
Visit Chez Panisse. - Home to a food pioneer.
Cocktails in a Hong Kong rooftop bar. - See the city from above.
Visit a deli in NYC for a bagel, a pretzel and pastrami on rye. - Three different delis would obviously be preferable.
Eat tacos in Mexico. - I have a feeling I’ve never had the real thing.
Enjoy a proper asado in an Argentinian home. - They’re onto something and I want in.
Eat steak and kidney pie in an English pub after a satisfying hike in the country. - I’d also accept game, pigeon or grouse - or any of those quintessentially English things I see in books but have never been bothered to source.
Eat mussels in Brussels. - Not just because it rhymes.
Try Pad Thai in Bangkok. - I’m betting that the Sydney version is just not the same.
Experience Texas BBQ in situ. - Happy to go on to compare all the other types of BBQ to understand the difference.
Take a cooking class at River Cottage HQ in Devon. - Because Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is one of my heroes.
Explore Australian bush tucker in all its forms. - I don’t think about this topic nearly often enough.
Try poutine. - It’s a Canadian cultural icon. There must be a reason.
Roast a whole turkey for friends and family. - Never done it. Probably should.
Learn to make a proper Sri Lankan curry. - Preferably in Sri Lanka.
Master the five French sauces. - I’m not a fancy pants cook, but this feels worthwhile.
Go to Firedoor. - I want to know what the hype is about.
Take an “Italian for Cooks” course. - Not just as an excuse to eat lots of Italian food.
Cook through an entire Ottolenghi book. - He’s worth it.
Learn to keep a sourdough starter alive. - It’s time.
Study the evolution of pizza from Naples to Chicago. - An important slice of food history. Also, carbs.
Train to become a master fromager. - This is really just an excuse to sample all the cheeses everywhere.
Have a tapas in Spain followed by a night out dancing with friends. - The kind of night of that begins at 10pm.
Distill a gin. - Because gin.
Cook a meal made up of the food Jesus would have eaten. - Create a meal that is food, philosophy and history all in one.
Make pasta with an Italian nonna. - Happily, I will do number 26 first so I understand what’s going on.
Eat a tagine in Morocco. - I’ve never felt the need to own one of those conical tagine dishes, but I’m willing to be convinced by the romance of the real thing.
Eat something cooked underground. - Preferably with my Samoan family.
Eat Bunny Chow with family in Durban, South Africa. - No bunnies will be harmed.
Find a beer that I actually enjoy drinking. - I’m not a fan, but a recent trip to a micro-brewery inspired hope.
Become a sommelier (or at least take a wine appreciation course). - Same as item 30, but with wine.
Immerse myself in a cuisine that has been making vegan food delicious for millennia. - I’m thinking Indian, but am open to nominations.
Want to help me achieve my Foodie 40 list? I’m happy to talk to food businesses about working together on projects that involve any of these experiences.