Wednesday, May 21, 2008

KFC and Other Delicacies

There's been a request for more discussion of road food, especially the regional delicacies. Judging from the request, there may be a slightly romanticized view of the culinary options available on this route. Let me dispel some of these notions.

The other night I stayed at a bed and breakfast a few miles outside a small Kentucky town. Linda, the owner, offered to drive me back into town to get something to eat after I had cleaned up. When I asked her where she would recommend that I eat, she winced and said, "There are two restaurants in town, but let me put it this way, you won't be asking for any recipes." That more or less summarizes my dining experience thus far. Nonetheless, due to an insatiable appetite, everything I eat these days tastes good. But, of course, that doesn't mean it is good.

Most of the towns I pass through are not even big enough to have a proper restaurant, diner, or cafe. Many have a gas station that also has a flat grill and a deep fryer to make hamburgers and fried frozen foods. Options are often limited. For example the other morning, when the local gas station/food mart was out of breakfast sandwiches, my breakfast consisted of a corn dog and chocolate milk (and to prove my point, it tasted great). My diet is guided by two main tenants: eat calories and carbs during the day and eat protein in the evening. I have eaten more Poptarts and Snickers bars in the past two weeks than I had probably eaten in the previous ten years.

This is not to say that there haven't been some standouts. A lunch in Eastern Virginia was memorable more for the locale than the food. I ate in an original soda fountain in a basic, operating pharmacy. None of the women behind the counter were under seventy and my double bacon cheeseburger set me back about $2.50. In Charlottesville, I had some great pizza at Christian's. The toppings on a large selection of pizzas by the slice were creative and fresh.

The aforementioned slaw dogs served on napkins at Skeeter's in Wytheville were tasty and the historic setting added to the experience.

It's often easier to find homeade desserts than main courses and I rarely pass up a dessert. A pecan tort from a cafe in Lookout, VA and a plain cheesecake from the restaurant in Booneville that Linda didn't think too highly of were both memorable.

I keep my eyes peeled for authentic local cooking, but as of now the noteworthy restaurants make up a short list. Perhaps, my options will improve as I move West.


Greg said...

I see that you are not going through Louisville but perhaps Louisville's most famous sammy can be found elsewhere, the HOT BROWN. Now I'll admit the name is not appealing but the taste sure is... open faced, roast turkey sammy with tomato, bacon, white gravy and cheese that is melted on the top. Pic included:

Here is a place to stop in Sebree

Here is a place to stop in Marion:

chris said...

Ah, a corn dog and chocolate milk. Breakfast of champions.

Nick said...

Don't forget about Yoohoo! It's a cyclist's dream food. That and Oatmeal Cream Pies. I think it's about the most calorie rich food outside of of drinking olive oil! Have fun out there!

Edward said...

I haven't been riding a bike for two weeks, and that fried chicken still looks delicious.

Toni Jill said...

Just wondering, is there some unwritten law that you HAVE to eat KFC while in Kentucky? Here's a funny story for you, my hubby's family used to meet his grandparents every week to eat at KFC but his grandfather HATED chicken! He just loved the veggies on the bar and had seen his momma ring one too many chicken's necks. Guess that will give you something to think about while you naw on your next chicken leg! Just keeping up with you! Happy travels in KY! ~Toni Jill

Ronald said...

When I read you reference to Hal Holbrook, I had this image of you eating roots and wild mushrooms, and wondered how into the wild you have gotten. Then I saw the chicken and other food and was relieved. A slaw dog sounds like the perfect food--and no poppy seeds!
I'm enjoying reading about your journey, and find your landscape and yokel color photos beautiful. Glad you kept the heavier camera. Ron R

JRoot said...

There are some good eats in Missouri. If you come north, we'll steer you in the right direction.