I want to see more informality and less stupid posturing. I hope never to be followed to the toilet by a waiter ever again. I wish they'd stop pouring my bloody wine for me. I wish they'd stop filling my water glass in a blatant attempt to flog more mineral water. It all just needs to be cut back to the essentials: a table, a chair, a knife and fork and good things to eat with them.
I was very clear that the book couldn't just be about me sitting on my sizable arse filling my belly. Each city needed not only to have great restaurants, but those restaurants also had to be a way in to another story about the city. So Las Vegas is actually about the creation of an adult theme park. Moscow is about the end of communism and the rise of the mafia, and Dubai is about the building of a city from nothing. Clearly other cities could have made the cut: Hong Kong, for example, or Shanghai. But in each case, I felt the story they might tell – post-communism, the clash of East and West – would be told better by another city. The fact is, choices had to be made or the book would have been absurdly long.
Which of the experiences detailed in the book would you most like to revisit?
I would love to be back with Mr Suzuki, the sushi master in Tokyo. The Japanese capital has some of the smallest luxury restaurants in the world, serving perhaps just four or six people. I found my way to the very smallest, because Mr Suzuki's restaurant served just one person that night: me. It was 32 courses of delicate loveliness. We spoke none of each others' language, but we had no problem communicating.
Why do you reckon Europe has taken so long to embrace Japan's restaurant culture? Er, because it's a long way away? It takes 14 hours by air from London, and once you get there nothing makes sense. It's completely disorientating, but it's definitely worth it.
"Nobody goes to restaurants for nutritional reasons." Discuss, with particular emphasis on the nutrition afforded by restaurant food.
At home, we make lunch or dinner because we're hungry and we need to eat. We go to the kind of restaurants I write about in The Man Who Ate The World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner because we want to have a memorable experience, something which gives us pleasure. Obviously part of that pleasure lies in feeling fed at the end of it, but we don't go because we're suffering from rickets or scurvy. Plus, of course, some of these places are nutritionally disastrous. A lot of fuss is made about the ill effects of eating McDonald's. The reality is that dinner in an old-school classic French luxury restaurant, where nothing is served unless it has first been drenched in butter or pelted with foie gras, is probably far worse for you.