With so much incredible food to be had in Seattle, it doesn't seem sporting to complain about the one measly food item not available here. But once an eater's smitten with a particular dish, it's impossible to persuade him there are other boiled whitefish with new potatoes in the sea.
Call it harassment, but we recently prompted our Voracious contributors to tell us about favorite foods they can't find in Seattle. Here, a sampling of their top out-of-reach dishes.
Food: New Mexico-style green chile
Contributor: Laura Onstot
Distance to a decent version: 1263 miles (Aztec, N.M.)
Closest local approximation: The Bang Bang burrito with green and red chile, eggs, beans, cheese, potato at Bang Bang Cafe
Why it's missed: "I miss it so, so much, " Onstot says. "Green chile add a kind of sweet/savory heat to things, as well as a whole lot of flavor. You can make a dish spicy with a healthy dose of crushed red pepper, sure. But green chile brings a whole new flavor of its own, a lotta heat, and still manages to avoid overwhelming the primary flavor of whatever you're eating. I'm going to pathetically and desperately attempt to grow Chimayo chiles myself in the planter box on my roof."
Distance to a decent version: 2241 miles (Spartanburg, S.C.)
Closest local approximation: You tell me.
Why it's missed: There's nothing unusual about putting cheese, mayonnaise and peppers on a burger, but a burger slathered with salty pimento cheese takes the trinity to another level. Made with shredded cheddar, pimento cheese has a raggedy texture that melts into an irresistible ooze against the heat of a hot beef patty. I don't care if it's made with Duke's, Velveeta, or any of the other secret ingredients that pimento cheese mavens swear the spread can't be made without: I just need a burger, pimento cheese and a bun (and probably lots and lots of napkins.)
Distance to a decent version: 5929 miles (Seville, Spain)
Closest local approximation: Shawarma King, open until 11 p.m.
Why it's missed: "They have these carts all over southern Spain that serve the shaved roast meat in sandwich form, but not a single one that I've ever encountered here," Hamilton says. "It is the ultimate drunk food, and a cart would do booming business if they set up shop on Pike or Pine and stayed open until 3 a.m."
Contributor: Ma'Chell Duma LaVassar
Distance to a decent version: 2242 miles (Dallas, Tex.)
Closest local approximation: Mexican Grocery
Why it's missed: LaVassar sent her suggestion without any elaboration, perhaps assuming everyone already understands the allure of what former Houston Press critic Robb Walsh has called the Tex-Mex Egg McMuffin.
Contributor: Leslie Kelly
Distance to a decent version: 1890 miles (Kansas City, Mo.)
Closest local approximation: Pecos Pit BBQ
Why it's missed: "We're not talking rocket science, so why's it so hard?," Kelly asks. I think it's a rhetorical question, but it's worth noting that smoked meat ain't easy. A commercial pit is expensive, and it's not uncommon for talented pit masters to stay up all night tending it (because it's also not uncommon for barbecue joints to burn down.) Still, the local dearth of impressive barbecue suggests there's a wide open niche for someone willing to give it a go.
Contributor: Julien Perry
Distance to a decent version: 787 miles (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
Closest local approximation: Dutch double-salted licorice, Scandinavian Specialties
Why it's missed: "The Danish version is superior," Perry contends. "Smaller pieces and more flavorful. I have a Danish friend who would bring me back a bag every time she went to visit. It's amazing stuff:"
Distance to a decent version: 1135 miles (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Closest local approximation: Cumin lamb, Sichuanese Cuisine
Why it's missed: "Our issue here may be the lack of fat-tail sheep in the country, but there is something amazing about the cumin-spiced nibbles, two savory meat bits sandwiching a melting piece of tail fat," Bishop says.