Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

kayb

Road food

Recommended Posts

I looked and didn't see an appropriate topic for this post, so I made one. "Road Food," of course, was made famous by Jane and Michael Stern on public radio, but we've all been out on business or pleasure travel and happened up on marvelous food in the most unlikely of places. Here's a place to post same, and I'll start off with my stop this morning.

 

I had been on a business trip that took me to LA -- that would be Lower Arkansas -- and spent last night in Monticello, in the southeastern quadrant of the state. I commend to you, by the way, the Trotter House BnB there, where they fed me breakfast that would have sufficed for me and a friend.

 

59b20779dba1c_Rhodas0907.jpg.446725a7a7d8c0317c49787b42947c79.jpg

I set out withh a couple of stops planned, but no real schedule, and decided on a whim I wanted tamales to bring home. So I betook myself east and south to Lake Village, in the far southeastern corner, to Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales and Pies.

 

And they are, in fact. Famous, that is. At least in the Mid-South, where people might grant you could get good tamales across the Mississippi River in Greenville, MS, but if you want pie, you need to cross the bridge and go to Rhoda's.

 

I pulled in about 10:30 a.m. Miss Rhoda's daughter, who has taken over most of the cooking duties, was slinging pots and pans in the kitchen, and dishing up cabbage cooked with ham, sweet potatoes and fried chicken for the day's lunch. She stopped to fish me three dozen tamales out of a massive pot on the stove, and pack them in their cooking liquid in a No. 10 can that had probably held that day's sweet potatoes. Meanwhile, her mother, Ms. Rhoda herownself, hollered at me from around the corner, where she and a gentleman friend were tying tamales, three to a bundle, with strips of corn shuck.

 

"Where you from, baby?" I'm from Jonesboro. "Whooo, that's a long way. You come all the way down here to get some of Rhoda's tamales?" Well, sort of. I was in Monticello on business, and while I was that close, I wasn't going to miss getting tamales to take home. Can't get good tamales in Jonesboro. "Honey, I know dat's right. Y'all got them Meskin tamales up there." (I did not promise this post would be politically correct. Sorry.)

 

We visited for a few minutes, all the while Ms. Rhoda's gnarled and bent fingers flying as she'd pluck up three tamales, stack them in a pyramid, grab a length of husk, slide it beneath the stack, and cinch it not-too-tight. Tamales went in a pot on the floor. We had gotten through people we both knew up and down the Delta when Ms. Rhoda's daughter called me back to the other side of the room. "Baby, I got yo' tamales." And in fact, she did, foil over the top of the can, the whole things wrapped in a few pages of the Chicot County Advertiser. Forty bucks, and well worth it.

 

59b207dfe064c_tamales0907.jpg.5f87c2bd27ef102b6a80931210c90f7f.jpg

"What kind of pie you got today?" I asked hopefully. 

 

"Lemme look." She pulled open the oven door. "Lessee, I got pecan, chess and egg custard. I got apple and peach. I got coconut cream. Won't be ready for about 15-20 minutes."

 

Sadly, I didn't think I had 15-20 minutes, nor did I need to bring home an entire pie. Had I had, I would have been faced with the Hobson's choice of chess or pecan or coconut cream.

 

My tamales, still in the can, are in the fridge. Tomorrow, I'll parcel them out, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze them. Then I'll go to the grocery store and get cans of cheap no-beans canned chili and boxes of Saltine crackers, and be sure I have plenty of cheddar cheese to grate for the top, and we will binge on tamales. And I will wish I had egg custard pie.

  • Like 23

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Road food - it is it's own thing. I'm no expressway queen in Japan, but about 10 years ago in New Zealand, I noticed that the best roadside food was very different from its city cousins. We pulled in to a roadside bakery, and found a queue. The food cabinets were immaculate, and there were plenty of staff on the cash register. The "restaurant" floor was poured concrete, decidedly lacking in atmosphere, and nobody was in a hurry to clear and wipe the tables, but those who bought food to go were getting fresh, imaginative food well priced and well packaged for the road.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, kayb said:

I looked and didn't see an appropriate topic for this post, so I made one. "Road Food," of course, was made famous by Jane and Michael Stern on public radio, but we've all been out on business or pleasure travel and happened up on marvelous food in the most unlikely of places. Here's a place to post same, and I'll start off with my stop this morning.

 

I had been on a business trip that took me to LA -- that would be Lower Arkansas -- and spent last night in Monticello, in the southeastern quadrant of the state. I commend to you, by the way, the Trotter House BnB there, where they fed me breakfast that would have sufficed for me and a friend.

 

 

I set out withh a couple of stops planned, but no real schedule, and decided on a whim I wanted tamales to bring home. So I betook myself east and south to Lake Village, in the far southeastern corner, to Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales and Pies.

 

And they are, in fact. Famous, that is. At least in the Mid-South, where people might grant you could get good tamales across the Mississippi River in Greenville, MS, but if you want pie, you need to cross the bridge and go to Rhoda's.

 

I pulled in about 10:30 a.m. Miss Rhoda's daughter, who has taken over most of the cooking duties, was slinging pots and pans in the kitchen, and dishing up cabbage cooked with ham, sweet potatoes and fried chicken for the day's lunch. She stopped to fish me three dozen tamales out of a massive pot on the stove, and pack them in their cooking liquid in a No. 10 can that had probably held that day's sweet potatoes. Meanwhile, her mother, Ms. Rhoda herownself, hollered at me from around the corner, where she and a gentleman friend were tying tamales, three to a bundle, with strips of corn shuck.

 

"Where you from, baby?" I'm from Jonesboro. "Whooo, that's a long way. You come all the way down here to get some of Rhoda's tamales?" Well, sort of. I was in Monticello on business, and while I was that close, I wasn't going to miss getting tamales to take home. Can't get good tamales in Jonesboro. "Honey, I know dat's right. Y'all got them Meskin tamales up there." (I did not promise this post would be politically correct. Sorry.)

 

We visited for a few minutes, all the while Ms. Rhoda's gnarled and bent fingers flying as she'd pluck up three tamales, stack them in a pyramid, grab a length of husk, slide it beneath the stack, and cinch it not-too-tight. Tamales went in a pot on the floor. We had gotten through people we both knew up and down the Delta when Ms. Rhoda's daughter called me back to the other side of the room. "Baby, I got yo' tamales." And in fact, she did, foil over the top of the can, the whole things wrapped in a few pages of the Chicot County Advertiser. Forty bucks, and well worth it.

 

 

"What kind of pie you got today?" I asked hopefully. 

 

"Lemme look." She pulled open the oven door. "Lessee, I got pecan, chess and egg custard. I got apple and peach. I got coconut cream. Won't be ready for about 15-20 minutes."

 

Sadly, I didn't think I had 15-20 minutes, nor did I need to bring home an entire pie. Had I had, I would have been faced with the Hobson's choice of chess or pecan or coconut cream.

 

My tamales, still in the can, are in the fridge. Tomorrow, I'll parcel them out, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze them. Then I'll go to the grocery store and get cans of cheap no-beans canned chili and boxes of Saltine crackers, and be sure I have plenty of cheddar cheese to grate for the top, and we will binge on tamales. And I will wish I had egg custard pie.

Thanks for this wonderful story, so well told!

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Road food?  Not much in Canada.  And minimal where I live...East Central Ontario.  I envy the choice that Americans have.  And many other places in the world also.

Here we have mostly Chip Wagons (chips are French Fries) which offer other hamburger/hotdog/ etc type stuff but that's about it.  I know that Toronto has quite a lot to offer in the downtown area.  

First tastes of B-B-Q'd pork in Ohio, and also delicious but so dangerous to the unaccustomed stomach,  Funnel Cakes.

Navajo Fry Bread in the flea market in Shiprock, NM.  

 

Those are the ones which spring to my mind (or taste buds.

 

  • Like 1

Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I'm sorry but I have to disagree. We do have road food in Canada and we do have it in Ontario. 

 

 On our various trips north to Manitoulin either using the ferry or going through Sudbury we have stopped at various little roadside cafés and eateries and run into some amazing food. 

 

I remember one shabby place attached to a gas station where they were serving the most amazing homemade bacon. 

 

The small house in Espanola, now gone,  where an aging woman did all the baking and all the cooking and the food was to die for. 

 

We've had fry bread tacos on Manitoulin Island. 

 

 There are others that are not immediately coming to mind. 

 

 Most structures are lacking in decor and even their structural integrity is sometimes questionable but the food they serve is made with the kind of love you don't find anywhere else but on the road. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 7

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Anna N said:

 I'm sorry but I have to disagree. We do have road food in Canada and we do have it in Ontario. 

 

I stand corrected gladly.    Any time.    

  • Like 1

Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spent a week in Hawai'i as a college graduation gift from my parents (I went with a family friend who had a timeshare there).

I was amazed to see roadside barbecues. I guess it's how they do fundraisers for boys scouts or whatever. They set up a couple of half-barrels and fill it with wood or coal, throw a metal screen over the top and BBQ chicken halves. If you're hungry, you pull over, pay up and take the food to go.

Thank you @kayb for your wonderful story.

 

edited for spelking


Edited by Toliver For spelking (log)
  • Like 2

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shortly after the horror of 9/11 we were inNew Orleans and I had booked a bayou canoe trip. The very seasoned guide was intent on stopping at what he considered a superb po'boy place. Little shack in the back of beyond - but it was closed! Number 2 on his list was a gas station - my first & best shrimp po'boy - dressed - eaten on the water. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the back roads in NJ driving towards the shore (my friend used to call it the Jersey Devil route) have some of these types of places. You might find a building next to a working farm with homemade pie and preserves. There are certain areas known for roadside BBQ (a lot of the guys are originally from the South), I passed one just yesterday in the middle of nowhere, farmland all around, I saw the steel drum/barrel with smoke curling out. NJ has gotten so developed, a lot of people don't realize how much open space does still exist off the beaten path. It is harder to find than in other areas of the country, no doubt.

  • Like 2

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, @kayb, I LOVE this story!!!  As would my dear friend @racheld, who used to post here years ago.  @caroled - tell your Momma to come read this!!!

 

This is exactly the kind of place that Mr. Kim and I love to find on road trips.  We would much rather risk a disappointing meal (and sometimes a tummyache) or a chance at something wonderful than to play it safe and predictable by stopping at a national chain!

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Road food payoff:

 

59b32d1013fb9_Tamales20908.jpg.7323310c1904000f8f3739f7915f7422.jpg

 

A No. 10 can full of tamales.

 

59b32d1ab3feb_Tamales40908.jpg.dd15f4435a272deefd2e0f82001d05cb.jpg

 

Stripped of shuck, and ready for application of cheap grocery store chili.

 

59b32d06f2b7a_tamales0908.thumb.jpg.7027cb912448ee1f385fdcd62c34aff3.jpg

 

The final product, sans Saltines, which I added moments later.

 

59b32d158dc8a_tamales30908.jpg.091fc6a573b05585514c879da86b97da.jpg

 

And the remaining 2 dozen and 9 bagged up and waiting for the freezer.

 

For those who are not familiar, Delta tamales are a different creature from Mexican tamales. The seasonings are quite different, for one thing; salt, pepper, red pepper. No garlic, no onion, no cumin, etc. The masa is very thin, the filling-to-masa ratio is probably 4:1. They're boiled instead of steamed. And sometimes you find them wrapped in foil or waxed paper instead of corn shucks. Some folks prefer chopped onions on top of theirs; I don't care for raw onion, so I don't. And always, always, cheap no-beans grocery store chili, and Saltines.

 

And a cold Co'Cola.

 

One of the multitude of reasons I would live nowhere else.

 


Edited by kayb (log)
  • Like 15

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back in 2008, my wife and I spent a few days around Xmas time going to Puerto Rico.  We flew into San Juan (all the way on the east side of the island) but our hotel was all the way on the west side of the island.  There's actually an airport on the west side also, but we wanted to drive across the island taking in the sights, and a certain lechoneria in the middle of nowhere.  Best. Lechon. Ever....

IMG_1154.thumb.JPG.da78c32d8dd9f3cab8308d7b528b5b28.JPG

IMG_1151.thumb.JPG.bded758c25028865e47ef2358abe5465.JPG

IMG_1152.thumb.JPG.beea649cae68bb273a859aa8a5b70840.JPG

 

ETA: Along the way, we also found a lady frying fruit pies over charcoal on the side of the road... I didn't get a picture, but they were fantastic!


Edited by KennethT (log)
  • Like 10
  • Delicious 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, BeeZee said:

the back roads in NJ driving towards the shore (my friend used to call it the Jersey Devil route) have some of these types of places. You might find a building next to a working farm with homemade pie and preserves. There are certain areas known for roadside BBQ (a lot of the guys are originally from the South), I passed one just yesterday in the middle of nowhere, farmland all around, I saw the steel drum/barrel with smoke curling out. NJ has gotten so developed, a lot of people don't realize how much open space does still exist off the beaten path. It is harder to find than in other areas of the country, no doubt.

dang...can't find it but Denis of Dennis and Judi has mentioned a place in the middle of nowhere heading from where he lives in Medford to the shore around Point Pleasant that is this great hot dog place.  


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh....my....that lechon!


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it's been two great Road Food meals in a week. Went to Wilson, Arkansas last night to hear Jason D. Williams, a protege and alleged out-of-wedlock child of Jerry Lee Lewis, and certainly his spiritual heir at the piano -- whew, what a show!

 

Wilson is a fascinating town, built in the Arkansas Delta by plantation owner Robert E. Lee Wilson in the early 1900s for his bride, to mimic an English village. Lovely Tudor-style architecture surrounding three sides of a green. It had fallen, like many towns in the South, on somewhat hard times in the early years of this century, until it was purchased, along with the multi-thousand-acre cotton plantation that surrounds it, by an entrepreneur with a yen to create, or recreate, something special.

 

He has founded the Delta School, a private school that, by all accounts, is providing a superb education to local kids and kids from a ways off. Part of their studies include working in the Wilson Gardens, which grow organic produce that's sold at the Wilson Grange, a farm market that also hosts cooking classes and concerts. There's some new retail, a new museum focusing on the local pre-Columbian culture, and a great deal of new, upscale housing is going up, as Wilson becomes the new "cool place" to live and visit. They do big name concerts (at least medium name, like Jason D) at least once a month, outdoor festivals every couple of months, and are just generally doing all sorts of neat stuff. More here.

 

The Wilson Cafe had anchored one corner of the square for decades. Some few years ago, when my kids were in school, it was a seafood and steak place on Thursday-Saturday nights, a popular place that included a buffet with all-you-can-eat crab legs and boiled shrimp, which made it a favorite of mine. It closed a few years ago, but the resurgent Wilson leadership has brought it back, with a focus on farm-to-table produce grown across the highway, local beef, chicken and pork, and bringing in a well regarded chef from Memphis to run the place. Its prices are reasonable -- steaks are in the 30-ish range, and come with a potato side and a salad. The menu ranges from there down to burgers and sandwiches. 

 

We went over for dinner before the concert. All I photographed were the deviled eggs. Bacon and cheddar deviled eggs, in point of fact. So simple. So good.

 

59b5b15551a96_eggs0910.jpg.8ffafadccc6db31a4507375bb9349330.jpg

 

My companion had fried shrimp, pronounced them good, although she didn't care for the slaw, which was quite spicy. I went with Arctic char, in some sort of vaguely sweet reduction glaze, over -- are you ready for this -- bacon barbecue mac and cheese.

 

Sweet Baby Jesus. What a study in glorious excess. I wanted to take a vat of that stuff home. I bet there were 500 calories in every bite. Rich, buttery, cheesy, smoky, salty, a whiff of a sweet tang from barbecue sauce...have mercy! All that saved me was it was so rich I just had to stop.

 

Fish was good. I ignored the sauteed kale side.

 

Oddity of the evening, and I've noticed this eating there before -- no bread served with the meal. I didn't miss it.

 

As I said, show was a killer. If you ever get a chance to see Jason D. Williams, and you're any sort of a Jerry Lee Lewis fan, don't miss him.

 

59b5b25f2e1c8_jasondwilliams0910.jpg.955c9123116aa8de8668e9d8b6b91825.jpg

 

 

  • Like 7

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow!  That food sounds amazing.  You had me googling away looking for recipes for BBQ Bacon Mac and Cheese.  Interestingly, Epicurious has one dated November 2015 but it has had zero reviews.  I just may have to try it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 1991 my husband and I moved from Seattle to Costa Rica and he thought it would be a great adventure to drive there. Most of the food that we ate on the trip is just a blur but one meal was particularly memorable. One morning we had just entered Mexico, and had been driving for about two hours. We were hungry and we hadn't seen any place to eat for miles. Finally, we saw one place off the side of the road with tables set up under some sort of an awning. The place seemed busy with about 20 customers. It didn't seem particularly impressive but we were hungry. We stopped. There were no open tables but the people make room for us at one of theirs. Without even ordering, we were brought mugs of delicious Mexican hot chocolate and big plates of food from the kitchen. We had beans and rice, quesadillas, carne mechada, and big bowls of menudo. I had to decline the menudo but my husband loved it. We stayed longer than we meant to and fortunately, we knew enough Spanish to be able to hold our own in the conversations. As we got up to go, we asked how much we owed them. We were told no, no, no, absolutely nothing. This wasn't a restaurant it was just the family sitting down to breakfast. They were happy to have us as guests. We left not knowing whether to feel ashamed or honored so we chose the latter. This was easily some of the best food we ever had in Mexico.

  • Like 17
  • Haha 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a somewhat similar experience many years ago in southern Spain. Haven't thought about it in a long time, but @Tropicalsenior's story reminded me of it. I was in Jerez de la Frontera and went into a bar/restaurant for an early evening meal. From behind the bar, the bartender was serving people plates of what looked like a casserole of some sort. He asked me if I would like some (I do not speak Spanish, but we managed) and I said yes. It was delicious, and I was given a second helping. When I was ready to leave and started to pay the bartender refused to take money. It turns out that one of the customers had made the dish at home and brought it to the restaurant to share with the patrons, most of whom were probably regulars and friends. I remember I was somewhat embarrassed but in truth they were so willing to share that, as you mentioned, it was an honor to have been included. 

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, KennethT said:

That sounds like an amazing experience!

It was. We soon learned to identify and classify the restaurants. The good ones had matching folding tables and folding chairs from the beer company (given as premiums for their purchases). The fine restaurants had wooden chairs and tables with the name of the beer company carved on the back.

  • Like 4
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These are things one needs to know when on the road!

 


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got back from a quick getaway to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. It's not enough for a full-blown travelogue, so I'll hit the highlights in one post.

 

Made it to Biloxi Wednesday in time to do a little shopping at the factory outlet mall, and on to The Reef for dinner. Hadn't been there, won't go back; touristy, and mediocre.

 

Crab dip with pita toasts:

59f5ee45d58d9_crabdip1029.thumb.jpg.1320cd4640091a0594bfc733527a9591.jpg

 

Way too cheesy, and too peppery. Pita wasn't toasted enough.

 

Dinner, which I forgot to photograph, was a "Reef boil." Allegedly royal red shrimp -- they were not -- with corn and potatoes. Adequate.

 

The next night was a vast improvement. We went to Mary Mahoney's Old French House, a Biloxi standby since the 1950s, and with good reason. Classic old-style Creole and Cajun classics. We shared an appetizer of miniature fried soft-shell crabs, which were predictably excellent. My entree was one I have trouble getting away from -- Shrimp and crab au gratin. Sinfully rich and delicious.

 

59f5ef43cf43b_crabandchrimpaugratin1029.thumb.jpg.041409b1472092e26401ef17a0b20d82.jpg

 

Marvelous. Predictably so.

 

On to New Orleans the next day. Wandered the French quarter and on a whim, decided to try lunch at the Royal House Oyster Bar. Caprese with grilled shrimp.

 

59f5ef96ea1df_chrimpcaprese1039.thumb.jpg.5d8f604d6a1905cee05a4e1f830858ee.jpg

 

Tomatoes were a little weak, but everything else was excellent.

 

Had to have a little midafternoon pick-me-up, so we opted for beignets and coffee...

59f5efcdaa109_beignets1029.thumb.jpg.3ae01041a00cb47bc3a7bdf8f1ea3888.jpg

 

And stopped off at a candy store for pralines and truffles. This is a Bailey's Irish Cream truffle, which was excellent.

 

59f5f000ad24f_truffle1029.thumb.jpg.bfd02361c8a8996823350552c32b9264.jpg

 

For dinner that night, we chose another French Quarter standard -- Broussards. Started out with crab ravigote (please pardon blurry photo) salad, which was marvelous.

59f5f051052fc_crabravigote1029.thumb.jpg.8dadec1b0e53fb52c4795f508e433fa0.jpg

 

Steamed and chilled asparagus in endive leaves, topped with a salad of crabmeat in the lightest of viniagrettes. Light, refreshing, perfectly tasty, just excellent.

 

Followed by Pompano Ponchartrain. Possibly the most perfectly cooked pompano I've ever eaten. The sauce was a chardonnay butter sauce.

59f5f0b8372e5_pompanoponchartrain1029.thumb.jpg.bf361fae0978799309cabaa6d8af19ae.jpg

 

I must confess I ignored the green beans. One must have priorities.

 

On the way home the next day, we stopped at Middendorf's in Manchac, on the northern shore of Lake Ponchartrain. It's known for its "thinfish," quarter-inch thick filets of catfish, lightly breaded in what's almost a tempura, but isn't, and flash-fried so it's impossibly crispy but yet moist inside. Well deserved fame in the region, I'd say

59f5f13b82742_thinfish1029.thumb.jpg.be68293b6cb06ec8a1588d9c275ecc23.jpg

 

Slaw was average, as were hush puppies. Fries were likely a cut above average. The fish, though? Superb. Think catfish chips.

 

Middendorf's was also celebrating Oktoberfest with a couple of traditional German (not seafood) dishes, and respectable assortment of German beer.

 

And home, to 30-degree temps (it was 90 when I left Wednesday). I think I'll bake bread and make soup today.

 

  • Like 17
  • Delicious 1

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...