Entertaining and mouthwatering accounts of road food, genre Americana. The Sterns criss-cross America, eating at obscure cafes, lobster shacks, Pennsylvania Dutch places, rodeos, delis, taco joints, and barbecue pits hidden deep within the southern woods. This isn't great food writing, but it's good food writing. (Maybe later I'll do a post rounding up some great food writing.)

Roadfood is more of a guide book and Two for the Road is more of a narrative, but both books have elements of each, though surprisingly little content overlap. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Roadfood.

The Sterns spend most of their time in the south and east coast, followed by the Midwest. The great plains are lightly covered, and the west is only touched upon. Their entries for California, while completely valid and worthy, would not be on my top fifty list. They’d probably appear on my top 100. For instance, La Super Rica, a very good Mexican street food place in Santa Barbara. It does the best queso fundido (a clay pot of oily molten cheese studded with hunks of chorizo, to be scooped up with warm tortillas) I've ever found, but I wouldn't drive for an hour and a half just for that. They also mention Cassell's, a burger joint in Koreatown. Again, quite good and I like the mustard-spiked potato salad, but if I've hauled ass all the way to Koreatown, I'm having Korean food.

The Sterns are almost exclusively interested in Americana: soul food, jello salads, barbecue, burgers, milk shakes, sandwiches, Tex-Mex, and so forth. When they touch upon Chinese food, for instance, it’s explicitly the old-fashioned sort of Americanized Chinese you’d have to specifically look for to find in some cities nowadays. I’m fine with this focus – they don’t pretend to be comprehensive – but be aware that if you want to find suggestions for pho, idli sambar, or kimchi fried rice, these are not the books to consult.

Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 700 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair With American Food

Please comment with a luscious or revolting description of some old-fashioned food and/or local specialty you love or hate, perhaps, if you're feeling generous, with a recipe. It doesn't have to be Americana - by local, I mean local to you, whether you're in New Mexico or New Delhi.

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