When you’re on the road, everyone wants to know about the food. Not sure why, but there it is. So this is for the cuisine curious. (Neither Dash nor I tend to photograph our meals, so sorry…)
Much of the Route lies through the southern part of the US, and Southern cooking has traditionally been breaded and/or fried, or dressed in gravy, at least in my experience. When a large part of the day is spent behind the wheel, the heaviness of these meals can be unappealing, so for the most part, we avoided them. Even Dash, who was sorely tempted by biscuits and gravy and chicken-fried steak.
We ate our fair share of sandwiches and hamburgers. I posted images of our fast food day. Occasionally we ate breakfast out. Most often we started our day simply with something in the hotel room or B&B. We often ended just as simply with a grocery store salad (when we could find them) or cheese and crackers (which Dash referred to as “bread and water”) and our libation of choice. We carried a cooler in the back seat and that saved us on evenings when when we were just too tired to think about going back out to eat.
Sometimes, though, we had winners. The fish tacos at La Luna in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago were amazing our first night.
The breakfast at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, was swoon-worthy. I had sensational waffles of multiple grains–none of which were wheat: blue corn, quinoa, amaranth and another one or two I’ve forgotten. The were light and delicious with fruit, syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar. Dash had the Huevos Rancheros and hasn’t stopped talking about them. The fried potatoes that came with her eggs must have dived into the fry pot happily. Neither of us have ever had a french fry type potato that was anything near as good as these. Between the two of us, we ate them all because it would have been a sin to leave even one behind. It was a shame we weren’t staying in Albuquerque longer so we could sample everything on the menu. That chef knows his/her way around food. It was probably the best and most memorable meal of the trip.
We had excellent salads at the Pink House (the Belvidere Mansion) in Claremore, Oklahoma, but that had as much to do with the company of the PEO women there as the food. In Santa Fe, at our PEO party, Ann’s baked beans and Laura’s cinnamon sugar-dusted tortilla chips with fruit salsa were unforgettable.
And in Lodi, California, we were delighted to stumble on Pietro’s Trattoria, for a wonderful, farm to fork, Italian dinner, with a local pinot grigio, and a helpful, pleasant knowledgeable staff. Happy people we were. (The clever boots among you will note that Lodi is not on Route 66. True, but this is about the food we ate on the road.)
The Most Fun
Meals are not only about the food, they are about the people you spend time with–even if those people are those serving you. In Seligman, Arizona, we ate dinner at the Roadkill Cafe, (Motto: You kill it, we grill it.) with meals selections like The Chicken that Almost Crossed the Road, Smear of Deer, Smidgeon of Pigeon, Out of Luck Duck, Awesome Possum, Curbside Kitty, Creamed Quail on Toast, Where’s the Chicken, Flat Cats, Rigor Mortis Tortoise, Dead Meat Treat, Armadillo on the Half Shell, One-eyed Dog in the Fog, Vulture Vittles, and Funky Skunk.
But then we went down the street to the SnowCap Drive-In for ice cream. This is a classic drive-in for burgers, shakes, and soft serve ice cream. But what makes it so special is the great pleasure the owner takes in his jokes. Order a sundae? Do you want a male or female? With nuts or without? Do you want a small or a large? When you tell him, he pulls out two cups, one the size of the pill cups at a hospital and the other a more standard size sundae cup. Do you want a half spoon (he holds up a sample) or a whole spoon? When you say, a whole one, he holds up one with a hole in it. And it goes on. He’s told these a thousand times, but he seem to truly enjoy it when his guests laugh at his silliness.
The Ultimate Loser
The worst meal of the trip–and we had some mediocre food–was the White Castle hamburger. I don’t remember these being this bad when I was a kid or our family wouldn’t have eaten as many as we did. Dash called it mystery meat. A clever presentation couldn’t hide a very poor meal.
That’s the food review for this edition of the Route 66 blog. Bon appetit!