When I think back on the places I've lived, the richest culinary experiences were probably in Southeast Asia, and most of those rich experiences had nothing to do with restaurants…
I spent time in a number of Asian cities: Singapore, Bangkok, Penang, Chiang Mai, Manila. In most of those places, when you walk the streets you constantly walk past vendors selling food. In Singapore the strange fruits fascinated me. I love durian and rambutan. I suspect I'll never see them again since I can't get them in the US.
In Bangkok, on the other hand, the local people did marvelous things with vegetables I can get right here. A vendor might be selling dried eel and grilled chicken, but there was often a few ears of yellow corn roasting on the grill. Most mornings I walked past a vendor who sold sweet potato fries.
I've decided to get a few vegetable seeds of my own and plant a few things that I remember from overseas. I used to like gardening, but I haven't done it in a while. Maybe I'll include some of the hot peppers I remember from Singapore.