Somebody asked me this at a party last week. This question has vexed me for years. I find it difficult if not impossible to limit myself to five foods. If you asked me for ten or 15 or 20 or even 25 foods I couldn't live without, that would be much easier. But I've always had a problem with limits when it comes to food.
But here goes. I'm going to do it, as painful as it might be, but I will not suffer alone. Serious Eaters, join me on this exquisitely difficult assignment. Tell me what the five foods are you couldn't live without. Then we can compare notes—or should I say crumbs.
Remember, list five foods, not six or seven or ten.
1. Pizza (preferably from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix or Una Pizza Napoletana in New York City)
2. Fried Chicken (preferably from Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis and Mason, TN or from Scott Peacock's Watershed Restaurant in Atlanta)
3. Barbecue (either brisket from Black's in Lockhart, Texas, Pork Shoulder Sandwich from Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, AL, a smoked Elgin sausage from Southside Market in Elgin, TX, or ribs from Lem's in Chicago, IL)
4. Pie (any pie except pumpkin made by Karen Barker at the Magnolia Grill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina), served with an ice-cold glass of milk.
Number 5, the last one, always kills me. It seems so final, so limiting, so unfair. How can I not include a cheeseburger with or without fries (is that one food or two?); or a Gene & Jude's Chicago hot dog served with fries on top of the dog (now that is most certainly one food); or a plate of fried clams with homemade tartar sauce; or an oyster po' boy; or a pastrami sandwich; or a bowl of ramen or the pork buns from Momofuku in New York, or a bowl of pasta Mark Ladner would cook for me at the Enoteca at Del Posto in New York, or some warm chocolate chip cookies with a glass of really cold milk; or the gnudi or the prosciutto tart at the Spotted Pig; or a perfectly dry-aged Porterhouse at Peter Luger; or a hot fudge sundae made with frozen custard at the Shake Shack. All right, I can't take it anymore. I can't take the fifth, so I'm going to choose the fifth.
Number 5. A cheeseburger with french fries.
Forgive me, food lovers, for I am sure I have sinned.