But that's the thing - while these best restaurant lists ricochet establishments into the culinary stratosphere and create celebrity chefs - how many of us drool over memories or longings of high-end, Â£50-a-pop food? Ask people about their favourite meal and you're as likely to hear about something their gran used to make when they were ill or that perfect hotdog they had at the fair on their first date. But whatever the answer, it's always fun to hear about other people's food memories: what makes a meal stick in the mind and make someone's mouth water when they recount it 10 years later? We're not saying it was easy, but we tried to choose one each that has that effect on us...
2. Because I am a jammy cow who once had a tangential connection to the food world, I've been lucky to experience some truly excellent restaurants, some of which have been acknowledged by fancy lists and others of which have been acknowledged largely by my belly. And while I know this is going to make me sound like the worst kind of rah on a gap yah, none of the fancy restaurants can hold a candle to a piece of grilled sweetcorn I ate sitting on a swing on a beach in Malaysia. The setting was stunning, the corn was charred and smoky from the grill but as sweet as the name suggests, with lashings of butter and salt. Throw in the sound of the waves, the smell of the sea, the feel of the sand between my toes, and it was one of those sickeningly cliched but nonetheless fabulous once-in-a-lifetime experiences. F1Kate
3. Sometimes it is not the skill in the execution of a meal but the sheer circumstances in which said meal is eaten. I've eaten plenty of very lovely meals in lovely restaurants or cooked by members of my lovely family or lovely friends. But probably the meal I was most surprised by loveliness-wise was a chicken caesar salad at Hooters, San Francisco. I have no idea why, there were plenty of affordable, pleasant cafes we ate in but for some reason that salad was bloody gorgeous and I make no apologies for finding it so. Perhaps being served by women who all have names ending in i does it for me. Squeamish Kate
4. The most interesting dining experience I've ever had was at Dans Le Noir? - you eat in a pitch black room, being shown to your table by blind waiters, unsure of what you've eaten (the menu is Vegetarian, Meat, Fish, or 'Special') until the end of the meal. The tastiest was an amazing fish, mussels, prawn platter served on a bed of polenta with a spiced tomato sauce that I ate in a small restaurant on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia. It was a truly divine rustic meal.
However, as good as it was, that's not the best meal I've ever eaten. The best meal I've ever had was a supermarket own brand tin of Chunky Chicken in White Sauce. I had that when I was 10 years old on a camping trip with my family. It had rained the entire week, everything was soaked, and we were all freezing. It was the first warm thing we'd eaten in days (the gas in the camping stove had ran out on the first night), and it was amazing - hunger truly is the best condiment! Gareth
5. Many of my favourite meals are ones I've concocted myself. That might sound ridiculously self-centred, but I'm not claiming any great skill and I would fail miserably on Masterchef, but I love the process of cooking and I get a thrill out of creating dishes out of things I find in the kitchen. And then failing to write them down or ever re-create them. If I had to choose a restaurant meal, well I'm lucky enough to have plenty of choice there too. But one stands out: I was in Thailand with my husband's family, visiting his sister who lives there. Her boyfriend is local and offered to show us a good place to eat - perched on the rocks over the sea we sat outside and he ordered for all of us. Bowls of the most incredible fish soup I've ever tasted; fried fish we wrapped in leaves to eat; slices of papaya and chillies; sticky rice used to scoop up sauce and more fish... I could never recreate, adequately describe or even re-order what we ate that night but I have a strong memory of wonderful tastes and smiling faces. Squeamish Louise