At the time, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. I had asked our features editor, Eloise Basuki, to go to Macau and eat everything in sight. A food-eating competition winner—see tacos, female, Australia or chicken wings, Canada—she gladly tackled the assignment, venturing from casino glitz to backstreet bakeries and everywhere in between searching out the perfect meal. No doubt, her culinary report on the casino town, “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner” (page 74), will leave you salivating for a long weekend on the South China Sea. A month or two earlier, she ventured to Japan’s Iwate prefecture for a story on noodles and inadvertently, so she claims, was roped into slurping 67 bowls of soba in a single, out-of-competition sitting (“City of Noodles,” page 26). Nowhere near the record of 570 bowls, the lean-as-a-twig Eloise is quick to point out, but impressive all the same.
As in other years, putting together our annual Food Issue proved to be both joyful and stressful. Living in Asia, there’s no shortage of story ideas, the biggest challenge being to winnow the menu down to a manageable size without—and this is a big ask—neglecting any region or cuisine.
This year, we’ve got a special section on street food (“Street Eats,” page 49) that takes in everywhere from Surabaya to Chiang Mai to Saigon, while “Grazing Tainan” (“page 30) is a primer on the night markets that are synonymous with Taiwan. Further afield is a journey in search of fish molee (“Kingdom of Spice,” page 62) to top anything found in, well, the writer’s currysavvy home of Scotland.
Just in case you think this month will result in nothing but packing on girth, I signed up for a three-day wellness retreat in Bali, where one of the main ingredients was healthy food that is also delicious (“Life Lessons,” page 32). Good thing, too, as I’m well past the days where I might enter eating competitions.
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