Two for the Road: Our Love Affair With American Food by Jane and Michael Stern
I could never be a real food critic (there are too many things I don’t like to be fair to a restaurant or chef), but I certainly loved reading about Jane and Michael Stern’s experiences across the country as they searched out the best food. And for the Sterns, the best food isn’t found in five-star restaurants, but in small places known mostly by locals.
The book is a mish-mash of cookbook, guidebook, restaurant directory, and memoir, but in the Stern’s hands it works, blending into humorous vignettes of their travels. If you’re not into reading about food, or want a more linear account of events, this isn’t the book for you. It’s instead a meandering journey filled with their experiences as they document their love for road food.
Part memoir, part guidebook, part cookbook, and all parts hilarious, Two for the Road shares the lessons the Sterns have learned during thirty years of sampling regional fare on America’s back roads. If you want a great restaurant, forget the Yellow Pages, ask the local cop—and avoid anything that calls itself “world famous.” Sure bets are places with a giant plastic pig on the roof or pictures of Jesus on the walls. As the Sterns search for the Holy Grail of barbecue, they relate achingly funny adventures and misadventures, and what emerges is a big picture of America, revealing exotic eating customs that flourish right under our noses.
Want to know why they’re doing all that traveling and eating (and eating, and eating…)? They’re the authors of Roadfood and all its variations. If you like road trips and the excitement of finding great new places to eat, don’t miss:
- Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 800 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More
- 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late: and the Very Best Places to Eat Them
- Roadfood Sandwiches: Recipes and Lore from Our Favorite Shops Coast to Coast
They’ve got lots of other books too, including a series of “Roadfood Cookbooks” that are combined cookbooks and histories of various famous cafes and restaurants such as Southern Country Cooking from the Loveless Cafe: Fried Chicken, Hams, and Jams from Nashville’s Favorite Cafe and The Famous Dutch Kitchen Restaurant Cookbook: Family-Style Diner Delights from the Heart of Pennsylvania, although I haven’t looked at any of them personally.
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
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