Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Off the beaten path

The Wall Street Journal has a short interview with Roadfood authors Jane and Michael Stern. The Sterns also write a monthly column in Gourmet magazine and they have just put out a new guide, "500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late".

The beauty of their focus is discovering not only good food, but a way to taste local culture and history in many parts of the United States. The Roadfood Web site is a good way to find hole-in-the-wall places, restaurants distinct from places on the main tourist radar, eateries that come with a sense of context.

It was through Roadfood that on a trip to New Mexico I came to eat at a tiny one-room "diner" in El Rito, New Mexico, called El Farolito. Finding it took a little faith and perseverance via a small, dark, dusty desert road. And there was Abe's in Clarksdale, Mississippi, for barbecue and Southern tamales at a busy crossroads in the Delta. Or Taylor Grocery, a run-down shack from the late 1800s that was once a general store, in the tiny, rural town of Taylor, Mississippi (near Oxford). The wait for fried catfish and peach cobbler lasted a couple of hours. No one seemed to mind because everyone knew everyone else; it was a window onto a local Sunday night social gathering.

So if you seek more than just sustenance, make Roadfood a stop before you head out on your next trip.

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