Which country has the best food?

When I started writing this, I had a different answer in mind than the one I’m going to give.

I can’t say I’ve traveled the world the way some real travelers can, but I can say I’ve been around. After hitting my fourth continent this week, I feel like I’ve at least tried some of the world’s foods.

I haven’t hit the powerhouses of culinary renown. I’ve never visited Paris or those little towns in Italy, never sampled the cuisine in San Francisco or New York City. But in general, I’ve eaten.

And what I’ve found upon reflection is that the country that has the best food is the United States of America. Before I hear all the negative criticism for my choice, let me explain.

First, I’ll concede that some food – say Japanese sushi or Italian pizza – just isn’t the same outside the country. They try to bring it over, but something about the smells and textures of the countries themselves flavor the experience of eating them. What I’d argue, though, is that we can get pretty close in the United States, and then we make up for not getting it quite right by having a ton of other options that are also really close to perfect.

Second, I’m naturally biased. I like the comfort of the foods I grew up with. I like that I can get virtually everything I want when I’m in the United States, save just a few. I naturally don’t miss as many other foods, foods I didn’t grow up with (although I’ve lived and traveled abroad enough to miss some).

Third, part of the reason I like to think of the United States as the country with the best food is to keep myself satisfied. Coming back to the states, it’s easy to long for those Thai noodles that blow my mind but forget the delicious Chinese fast food we have in the United States. It’s easy to want the exotic fruit I can’t pronounce while the juicy cantaloupe sits right on my counter.

We might not have the single best of any one thing, but we have such a variety of near-perfect imitations, I think we’re way ahead of most other places. Where else can you regularly find TexMex burritos, Korean bulgogi with kimchi, Chicago style pizzza, and shawarma all within a block of one another? That’s the epitome of the American city, and it doesn’t even touch all the delicious home cookin’.

But still, I guess I haven’t been everywhere. What do you think? Which country has the best food?

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