Sunday, August 5, 2007

Book #29: Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Cooking

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair With American Food

Title: Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Cooking

Authors: Jane and Michael Stern

Continuing with my self-designed American Studies seminar course on books dealing with American eating habits, I felt like I couldn't ignore Jane and Michael Stern, who I grew to love when I lived in Minnesota and regularly listened to Lynn Rosetto Kasper's program, The Splendid Table, every Saturday on NPR (I still miss my NPR!). Anyway, Jane and Michael have been traveling around the US since the early 1970s, just after they both finished graduate school at Yale, in search of the best places to eat across the country.

For me, someone who looks for the next McDonalds on the interstate as soon as the tummies in my minivan start rumbling (on account of my picky eating children and the predictibility of food served at the golden arches, not due to my own preferences for McDonalds french fries), it was fun to read about people who'd never stray into a McD's on the road. In some ways, it made me nostalgic for a time when I'm able to travel the country at a leisurely pace, without having to take into consideration breaks for nursing, potty training toddlers, zoos, or carsick preschoolers (is it still nostalgia if you've never experienced that condition?).

Anyway, I read Two for the Road shortly before my mom and I took my four kids on a trip to Nashville (15 hours from home), Memphis (3 1/2 hours from Nashville), St. Louis (5 hours from Memphis), back to Nashville (5 1/2 hours from St. Louis) and back home. Yep, that's 44 hours in the car, over seven days, with four children ages seven and under, and two adults, one of whom (not me) spent more than half of the trip on crutches. When we were driving through Texarkana, TX on day 7 of the trip, we passed Bryce's Cafeteria, one of the locations the Sterns raved over. We considered stopping. But guess where we ate instead? Yep-- we shared some Happy Meals with Ronald. Good times.

--originally published 7/29/07

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