Real Road Food

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

When I was planning this mega trip I talked about Road Food…a class of dining that has its own rules and favorites, as distinct from food eaten routinely at home. In my mind, road food is further defined as that which is eaten in the car as distinct from food eaten while on a road trip. This means to me that, unless it is an emergency, any full meal is eaten indoors, not in the car. The first rule for me is that drive through ordering is only for pelting rain, dodgy surroundings or desperation from a lack of open restaurants. This doesn’t mean Burger King, Subway or Wendy’s are off limits, it just means I park the car and go inside to sit at a table. Of course, what one plans and what really happened are miles apart.

The trouble was that the differing rules for dining in this still lingering Covid time meant that many times indoor dining was prohibited. What I suspect is the chain fast food restaurants may have hidden some labor cost savings by using the rules as cover. I particularly think McDonald’s did this as they had all indoor dining closed even in states where it was permitted. Hence, I have chosen to no longer eat at that chain. I realize that this is no real sacrifice though it makes me feel good as if I am sticking it to the man!

The net result was that finding a place to eat lunch became a true treasure hunt each day. I did find some nice places in the small towns that were the local gathering places and got some really good food (perhaps a third of the days) but many days I just snagged a snack or a premade sandwich from a gas station convenience store and sometimes I got my fast food and took it somewhere to sit in the shade at a park or rest area.

Breakfast was another hit and miss meal. In years past, most mid-priced motels offered a breakfast as part of the price for the stay, but with Covid protocols few were still offering them. As a result, my default was Grandma’s Oatmeal Raisin cookies (occasionally substituted with Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies which are two soft oatmeal molasses cookies sandwiched around a layer of sweet and gooey vanilla cream filling) and Gatorade for the road. Actually, it wasn’t a bad thing, being filling and easy.

Then, to supplement, I had snacks and they should be special snacks one doesn’t usually have at home. While Ann sent me off with a can of cheddar Easy Cheese (I refer to this as hydraulic cheese for obvious reasons) and Frito’s Scoops, these were saved to share with my peers along the route. It wasn’t until I got home that I had some by myself. And, on day 7 my sister Cynthia gave me a party size (38 oz.) package of Peanut M&M’s on which I nibbled but still had almost half the package when I got home.

Usually for dinner I would walk to a local restaurant recommended by the motel staff and have a good meal. These varied from a fine steak dinner in Colorado, to crab cakes in Virginia, to wonderful fresh fish in Florida and the best Mac and Cheese with pulled pork I have ever had in Indiana. Add in a few Mexican dinners and one night of Chinese and I had a virtual United Nations worth of food for dinner. There were two nights where the only option was the local Subway, but that was OK too…it was all I needed.

Add an occasional Almond Joy, Snickers or Butterfinger bar and I was all set. And, that, my friends, is how I kept myself nourished and alert to any road condition I might encounter!

About Me

Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!

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