1. Bahn Mi: Vietnamese sandwiches. So delicious, so cheap, and they manage to be light and filling at the same time. Mayo, pickled carrots and daikon, thick slices of jalapeno, cilantro, pate, and various types of pork on a big, crusty French roll.
2. Thin crust pizza: Deep dish is okay, but the best is a cracker-thin, yet durable crust, lots of spicy, slightly acidic sauce, not tons of cheese. I like most topping combinations except ham and pineapple, but I really, really like goat cheese and olive, asiago, chicken, and rosemary, or ricotta, tomato, and basil.
3. Chow Fun: Wide noodles pan-fried a lovely golden-brown. I like it with bok choy and barbeque pork, though beef is good too. A little greasy, The best I ever had was a small, shack-type place on the corner of some street in New York's Chinatown. I can't remember the name. It's driving me crazy. Nothing was over $4, and it was super fresh and hot and, well, perfect.
4. Pistachio ice cream from Mitchell's in San Francisco: I grew up and went to elementary school not too far from here. I'm not a huge sweet fan or a huge ice cream lover, but there's is great. Waffle cone with pistachio ice cream. Sweet cream is also tasty, and they have the rare peppermint stick kind.
5. Spinach: I like it most ways, but my mom makes a warm spinach salad with homemade vinaigrette, chopped bacon, and feta or bleu cheese. Stir-fried with a lot of garlic and a little sesame oil is wonderful, too.
6. Potatoes: Any way I can get them. Mashed, boiled, fried, baked, in samosa or latke form, I can't turn down a potato.
7. Pierogi: Fried or boiled. I like the Polish way of boiling, then frying in butter. Cheese and potato, onion, meat, topped with sour cream and grilled onions.
8. Dim Sum: Shrimp dumplings, shu mai, congee, chicken feet even though it inevitably grosses the rest of the table out. Dumplings. Rice noodle rolls. Sesame seed balls.
9. Baked brie with apricot preserves: Delicious and really, really, really easy. Bake a round of brie. Spread with apricot preserves while still warm. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
10. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs: I recently went back to San Francisco to see my best friend from childhood, and every three blocks around the Mission street vendors were selling these. Oh my God. Best drunk food ever, and pretty great any other time as well. I love salt and meat and fat. If I were going to die of a heart attack, this wouldn't be a bad way to do it.
11. This one breakfast at a Colombian-Mexican restaurant in Pilsen, Chicago: Calentado, yellow breakfast rice with vegetables and pieces of pork. Whole beans topped with queso de crema. Fried plantains. Your choice of carne asada or chorizo, and it comes with warm corn tortillas. I guess that brings me to...
12. Coffee: Good coffee is important. I have a really hard time drinking bad coffee. I like the ritual of making it, I like how it cuts through the grease of breakfast or a sugary dessert. I've been drinking tea a lot more recently, but strong, dark roast coffee with a lot of milk and a some sugar...yeah.
13. Mango lassi, sweet: My 8-year-old cousin introduced me to these. "You've never HAD one???!!!!" she shrieked. Heaven in a glass.