Highways to (Foodie) Heaven
At Farm and Main from July/August 2012 Urban Farm
By Roger Sipe, Editor, Urban Farm
June 20, 2012
I love food, and I love road trips. Both of these affairs began when I was just a boy growing up in Indiana. Packing into a car each summer, my dad, mom, two sisters and I would make our 10-hour pilgrimage to Arkansas to visit family.
My parents always knew to make sure I was awake when we crossed the Mississippi River near Cairo, Ill. I loved riding across that beautiful, green-steel, cantilever bridge, watching the mighty river mosey along underneath. My mom probably wished I was asleep when we hit our next waypoint, near Charleston, Mo.: Boomland. My heart raced as soon as I could see that firecracker-shaped neon sign flashing "BOOM” and then "land” — a warehouse store filled with fireworks!
Our next stop was usually Cave City, Ark., where we would pick up a watermelon from a roadside stand to eat at my grandmother’s house. There is nothing better than driving 500 miles for a specific food, especially a sweet Cave City watermelon.
When I think of the favorite places I’ve visited across the country, I always have a fond food memory attached. When I drove to California after graduating college, you can bet I stopped to have a local steak in Dallas, Texas, and some chili peppers in New Mexico. Now that I call The Golden State home, the corn festivals of my youth have been replaced with annual avocado, guacamole and tamale festivals. It’s probably fitting that I wound up in a county (Orange) named after the fruit that used to grow so plentifully here.
When I was the managing editor of a travel magazine a few years ago, I was fortunate to get to visit the Hawaiian Islands several times a year and dine on fresh pineapple, laulau and poi. When my wife and I honeymooned across the South, each state tempted us with regional delights that we couldn’t wait to get our hands (and mouths) on. Beignets and alligator in New Orleans, La.; fried chicken from a little hole-in-the-wall in Mississippi; chilidogs from The Varsity ("What’ll ya have?! What’ll ya have?!”) in Atlanta, Ga.; in-season shellfish from The Crab Shack on Tybee Island, Ga.; Key lime pie in Florida. We even took one day just to drive up to Charleston, S.C., for some shrimp and grits at Jestine’s Kitchen (worth the drive!).
Now that we have a 1-year-old, my wife and I aren’t traveling as much as we would like. However, we get to watch his taste buds go on adventures each time we give him a new food to try. Each week, my wife picks out one new vegetable for him, depending on what’s in season. He loves avocados from our backyard tree, but won’t eat ones from the store. Put some sweet potatoes in anything, and he’s a real happy camper. Watching this little bundle of joy discover the emotions of "Nom!,” "Mmm ...” and "More!” is as pleasing as taking a road trip.
As my new family begins to plan our future vacations, we need some ideas of where we should go so we can eat like the locals. Tell us about your favorite foodie adventure. It can be a fancy restaurant (like The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.); some regional cuisine (Texas chili; Kansas City BBQ; New Orleans gumbo); or a specific in-season vegetable (eating potatoes in Idaho, corn in Indiana/Iowa, etc.).
Go to our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/urbanfarm, and post your adventure, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: Foodie). If we get a good response, we might use some in an upcoming issue. — Roger Sipe, Editor, Urban Farm
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