Once-in-a-lifetime food & drink experiences?

Very interested to hear what you all would add to a list of rare, expensive or iconic culinary experiences. For example:
A sip of 18th century liquor
Fugu
White truffles
Su filindeu (the thread of the gods)
Kobe beef
A Singapore sling served at Raffles
Afternoon tea at the Ritz London
Lourdes water
Da Hong Pao tea (from the 6 mother plants or their clones)
Manna
A piece of Charles’ & Di’s wedding cake
A nip of Macallan Lalique 50-Year-Old whisky.

What other foodie items are stand-outs in their their category?

This is an interesting one to answer due to the subjectivity of where we’ve lived and what’s available there. Growing up in Central Mexico, corn tortillas are practically everyday items, although I was used to the machine-produced kind made with mass-farmed corn.

Visiting the Southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas in my early teens, I have my earliest memory of trying a tortilla that tasted completely different. Prepared on a clay comal with a wood fire underneath, likely made from heirloom corn and shaped by hand, it has stayed with me since.

Like many other places, Mexico is currently having a reappraisal of older foodways and as such, you can now find tortillas with those characteristics in a lot of upscale restaurants in big cities, as well as traditional street stands that get more widespread recognition, so I’ve had many more. I would still say that first one was a once in a lifetime food, though.

So, I think about foreigners that visit Mexico and have a tortilla like that, be it in a restaurant, street stand or private home. To many of them, that will be a unique experience in their life, while others having them every day are likely to take them for granted.

In Oaxaca I met an Australian who ate an orange and kept saying it was the best she’d ever had, while I couldn’t see what was so special about it as I just tasted a regular Mexican orange I’d grown up with. I wonder if it was once in a lifetime experience for her? I also met Brits who had no idea mangos could be any color other than green (because that’s all they’d seen in supermarkets).

Reciprocally, when I’ve been abroad, people have reacted to my surprise at seeing vegetable vending machines, honesty boxes, ubiquitous and relatively cheap seafood like salmon, lobster and scallops (rarer and more expensive in most of Mexico), etc.

Out of your list I’ve only had white truffles, which make me wonder if, in the case of famously expensive foods, even those who deal with them regularly don’t end up taking them for granted too. Anyway, sorry if I’ve derailed the topic a bit, it’s just this is the kind of subject I really like to muse on.

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Fascinating post, linkogecko! Do you recall what variety of orange was it that so impressed your Australian friend? I too often wonder what visitors to my country find amazing that I tend to take for granted. I’ve heard that for many, Tasmania is considered to be as exotic as Timbuktu is to us here.

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Probably a Valencia, as that’s generally the most common type of orange for sale in the country. I even asked her if they didn’t have that type of orange in Australia, but I think she just found that one to have been the right orange at the right time.

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I spent my formative teenage / young adult years in Central Mexico and totally agree with you about the authentic tortillas and your general observations about Mexican cuisine.

One Mexican dish that I would probably call “once in a lifetime” (not exactly sure how that is supposed to be defined though ) given how “unusual” it is (not by Mexican standards or indeed by much of the world but definitely compared to Entomophobic Europe and USA) and being quite seasonal would be escamole.

Escamole is an ant larvae dish and really very interesting from a historical perspective because of the deep roots of this meal going back to Mexico’s Pre-Hispanic past, it is pretty nutritious and tasty too.

In terms of a “once in a lifetime” drink in Mexico I would probably suggest pulque. This drink is quite unusual and like escamole is a link to the Pre-Hispanic past plus I’m not aware of it being available anywhere but within Mexico.

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For me, what is “iconic” has more to do with my associations with food & place & experience, rather than rarity or expense. Yes, white truffles are exotic, but what will always stick in my memory are the black truffles, just found by a truffle hound, shaved over fresh pasta made by the truffle hunter’s wife, that we enjoyed, sitting in the sun, on the patio of their farmhouse in Piemonte.

Closer to home (Chicago), summer isn’t summer until I’ve had a pulled pork sandwich from Robinson’s, and it has to be at a street fair.

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For myself, I have had some wonderful bucket list food experiences over the years. As a youngster I remember trying the snapper soup at the famous bookbinders restaurant with my parents, long since closed now. My husband and I have enjoyed floating island, not once but twice, in Chicago at The Cap Cod Room (The same place listed in AO for the initials carved in the bar - MM + JD). Given any opportunity to have Lawry’s prime rib I will jump at the chance, and I’m so sad that the Chicago location is closed, but looking forward to our trip to Beverly Hills. Finally I would have to say that one of the best food memories I have shockingly comes from a Chevron station in Texas near a friends home. There was a woman who came from Mexico and made burritos fresh from scratch every day, while we were visiting we walked to the gas station every single day for at least one of these delights. I had never been so sad to go home!

I live in northern New England. A local iconic food experience that’s rarely experienced by non-natives is standing in a sugar house in March, sharing a toast of hot, freshly made maple syrup drawn straight from the evaporator. (Yes, you drink it straight). If the sugar house crew really likes you, you might also get to have one of the hard-boiled eggs that were cooked in the maple sap as it was boiled down.

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Great list . Hope you can pull it off.
Perhaps I can help with two of your items.
Singapore Sling at Raffles is dispensed with a hose like Coke. Old timers are outraged.
Tea at the Ritz is now a tourist destination and very sad. May I suggest Brown’s Hotel.

Thanks - have managed 7 of the 11 so far. Had better scones than the ones at The Ritz, but loved the decor and Xmas decorations. That’s a bummer about the coke hose at Raffles though… :frowning: