Bikers and Peach Pie
While not exactly oozing in culinary merit, local flavor, or much of anything else worth bragging about, this style of road food, despite the foodie revival of the last few decades, is still largely the food of Americana. And while nowadays I only eat it on road trips, I still like it. With nothing but highway for hours ahead, any distraction is hard to resist, so I pile on the french fries, chips, and pork rinds. If I can buy it at a truck stop, I'll eat it. There's something about grease that begets more grease; I keep eating knowing how nasty I'll feel, and cut the inevitable drowsiness with yet more coffee. This binge is part of the appeal; even writing about it now brings on bizarre cravings.
--Trans Fatty Blog
That's the stuff. Road Food. Different than street food because you buy it while you're out roaming around in your car. The diner, the truck stop, the drive-in. Four hours on the asphalt and then, the mirage that says milkshakes and onion rings! It's one of the joys of travel, stumbling across that perfect slice of peach pie or turkey dinner at 5.95 in the middle of July.
Road food is never in style, so it's never out of style either. Witness big guns like Alton Brown and Jane and Michael Stern doing the leg work so you don't have to. All that work goes towards sites like Road Food - making it possible for the food to be the destination.
Less well know food and travel bloggers bite in to the subject of road food. Here's Running Gags:
But if you happen to be on I-65 near Decatur, AL, take exit 340 and you will be a hubcap toss away from Apple Lane Farms. There you can get an "overstuffed" ham or turkey sandwich, made to order and wrapped in foil, side salads, homemade cookies, homemade pie, banana pudding, fresh fruit, molasses, peanuts, and chocolate-dipped apples. (You can also get glazed ham and smoked turkey by the pound, if you happen to have a loaf of bread and a jar of mayo in the car.)
The Bad Plus was on tour and couldn't pass up the "Hot Grill" sign, proving that the draw is international.
Driving out of Jena two days later there was a sign: Grill ist heiss. (Grill is hot.) Michael got very excited and called Norman to stop, for the sign was referring to the famous ThÃ¼ringer bratwurst, only available in this part of East Germany. At a little shack on the side of the road we each devoured one slathered with mustard. Ambrosia.
CooknKate has a lovely write up called Road Food and Mile High Pie:
And at each little town we passed I wondered about the local food joints and what tasty nuggets of local fare they may be offering. When the afternoons visit came to a close, and an evening meal was necessary, we went to a place called the Norske Nook, in lovely downtown Osseo, WI. A famous place, no doubt, as the signs along the Interstate might testify. Their specialty is sweets, pies of all kinds, sweet rolls big enough to feed a large family and a menu full of comfort foods and lefse wraps.
A few trips back, the sidekick and I were eating pie in a small town in Montana. While we were sitting there enjoying our snack a bit too loudly, some bikers came in and sat at the next table. "How's the pie?" they asked, and we got to talking. They, too, had been on the quest. They recommended the name of some place in some town I've since forgotten. "You think this pie is good? Up in [small town name here] we had a deep fried peach pie that we've not since had the likes of. You MUST go there."
Now you. You have road food stories, don't you?
Pam Mandel blogs about travel and other adventures at Nerd's Eye View. She's a sucker for onion rings.