When Charles Bibilos moved to New York in 2009, he had already lived in many large cities (DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Santiago) and wanted to take on a project that was thoroughly New York. He soon occurred to him that nothing was more New York than “ethnic overeating” so he devised a plan to eat food from every country in the world without ever leaving the five boroughs.
“I figured that I'd never get past about 80 or 90 countries, but I also figured that it would be blissfully fattening to give it a try,” says Bibilos.
On his blog, United Nations of Food, the adventurous foodie documents each one of his meals with photos of the dishes and detailed descriptions of everything he consumes. Currently, he’s checked off an impressive 129 countries with 31 to go. (He’s only including countries with populations over 1,000,000. Apparently, it’s pretty difficult to find a Vatican City sandwich shop in NYC.)
“I'm at the tough part of the quest,” explains Bibilos. “I don't think I'll find any restaurateurs from Chad or Papua New Guinea or Oman or North Korea, for example. I'm determined to keep going, but I probably need to make some friends at the United Nations who might be willing to cook for a random American dude. I might literally start knocking on the doors of UN missions soon. I'll work on my hungry, pathetic puppy-dog look.”
On top of making it through so many countries, Bibilos says that there have been two big surprises from his voracious quest. “Pickled herring and animal innards have been particularly pleasant ,” he says.
Check out his top eight picks for authentic international food in NYC below.