RHYS BOWEN: I confess. I'm a coward when it comes to food during my travels. Not having the strongest stomach in the world I have never eaten the more adventurous things like fried grasshoppers in Thailand. My husband, on the other hand, has a cast-iron stomach and will happily graze from stalls in markets wherever we are.
But it's memories of food that take me back to a place more vividly than any snapshot, so I've been trying to recall some memorable meals from my travels. I've eaten spectacular Indian curries and Chinese banquets, but what immediately came into my head was my time in Greece.
When I was a student I spent three months going around Greece with a backpack. My friend and i had no money so we ate in cheap cafes or from street vendors. In the cafes in small towns we were always the only women and the men would look up from their domino games to eye us with suspicion.
But my memories of that food are wonderful. Gyros made with lamb sliced from a carcass still turning on a spit, stuffed peppers snd tomatoes, moussaka. The convention was to go through the cafe into the kitchen, check out what was cooking and order what we liked the look of.
But my favorite meals were on the island of Aegina where we rented a tiny cabin. The cafe was just a shack on the waterfront and every day they cooked whatever fish they had caught that day. We'd eat the octopus we saw them catch earlier, banging it on the rocks like laundry to tenderize it. We'd eat whole grilled fish, or even a frito misto of stir fried whatever. All wonderful and washed down with retsina for which we developed a taste. Then strolling home through twilight olive groves, a trifle tipsy, while Greek music floated to us across the water. I'm smiling now as I think of it.
So who would like to share a travel food memory?
LUCY BURDETTE: I will never forget a roasted chicken with the most crispy skin garnished by a lentil salad in a cafe in Paris. We had a splendid cassoulet on the same trip--I think there had been an article about Parisian food in the LA Times. Did not write them down and have never been able to find them since...
HALLIE EPHRON: As you might imagine, I travel on my stomach. Oh, Rhys, your description of eating in Greece brought back memories. We ate ate a restaurant with fishing boats right outside; they beat the octupi and hung them to dry, so when you order it the chef ran across and grabbed a few.
But for favorite? SOOOO hard. I'd have to say dinner at Ristorante Miky in Monterosso al Mare -- across the street from the beach in this spectacular town in the Cinque Terra in Italy. The meal began with anchovies. Not the kind you get in the can, these are fresh caught right there. About 5 inches long by 3 inches wide, cured in a lemony brine and oil. Exquisite! Then fresh, tender homemade tagliatelle with langoustine.
RHYS: Hallie, I've eaten there! I stayed in Monterosso with my hiking friends when we hiked the Cinque Terre trail and we had a seafood risotto for all of us, cooked under a giant pizza crust that ballooned up like a huge mushroom. Then the owner pierced it and all that lovely vapor came out. Ahhh.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, fabulous food in Mexico, Italy, France, especially traveling with my parents on Frommer's $25 a Day (remember those?) and eating in working class cafes in France and Italy. Lunch at Gordon Ramsay Claridge's. BUT--can you guess? Last fall I ate at a restaurant called Joanna's in Crystal Palace, south London. They are famous for their mussels, so we that for starters with fresh artisan bread from the next door bakery. I have seldom been so tempted to lick the bowl. Then, roast belly of Suffolk pork, with winter greens and creamy mash (potatoes) in an apple and ginger sauce. And (can you guess again?) Sticky Toffee pudding for dessert. Everything was absolute perfection.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: I think I've already relayed my Paul Bocuse and Fish A/Fish B story. I'm not particularly adventurous when it comes to food - I passed on all the the exotic offerings in the Beijing food market (I think glazed sheep testicles on a stick were there, next to the chocolate covered grasshoppers!) I remember a wonderful meal in Avignon at a restaurant around the corner from La Mirande - but don't ask me what it was! I had asked for a vegetarian meal and they whipped up someting that was fantastic.
The one I do remember? It was the day after my first book came out and I had just flown to Phoenix for a gig at Poisoned Pen. I was starving and pulled into the lot across the street from the bookstore. The door was locked but I saw a few people inside and tapped on the window. The owner was closing up but took pity on me. His employee set one table, and lit candles while the owner - who said I'd have to take pot luck made me a plate with cold chicken pesto and a small salad. It was fabulous and every time I go back to PP I try to go to Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale!
HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: (RO, that's lovely--I hope to be there smeday!) For me--Pizza--in France! We were at the Michel Giraud restaurant/hotel in the town of Pau. The chef made pizza with fresh tomatoes right out of a lush garden-and it was the most intense! (In French, I think it's pissaladiere.) But you know--I had a memorable meal right here in the US..at the Four Seasons in Boston. PERFECT salad, perfect steak with blue cheese, perfect broccolini and some caulflower/potato thing with truffles. I also love when Jonathan grills out in our back yard..
JAN BROGAN _ The freshness of the tomatoes and cucumbers and the honey and yoghurt in Crete. Closer to home, but just as memorable, eating lobster bought on the docks of Cuttyhunk, cooked and eaten while on a the cockpit of a sailboat with the added pleasure of tossing the shells right back into the sea.It's really the only way you should eat lobster.
RHYS: Are you drooling yet? Do these memories evoke any of your own? Who has actually tried the fried grasshoppers? Actually I have eaten prairie oysters so I guess I'm a tad adventurous