I read this morning about one blogger’s long road trip, in which the blogger lamented — or, more precisely, preemptively apologized for — “eating (gross) road food” and the kids watching movies on tablets.
I don’t understand this. First, I know for a fact that you can travel cross-country, stop only at McDonald’s, and still eat nothing but salads and grilled chicken. Boring, but honestly it would be boring anywhere else. Second, there are plenty of roadside restaurants that are not fast food where you can eat. I don’t know that any are Michelin three-star restaurants, but the food is decidedly not gross and you can, you know, read the menu and pick something you like.
Why does every second of life and especially kids’ upbringing have to be organic, locally sourced, wholesome, and above all educational? Can’t the kids (not to mention adults) let loose sometime and have it be OK, celebrated even? In August, on vacation, my family had ice cream before dinner every single night. The kids were really into an ice cream place that closed early-ish, so by eating dessert first everyone got their favorite treat and was much better behaved at dinner (even if they didn’t eat as much). This was a whopping five days of our lives, great fun and memories, and I guarantee my kids lives or gut flora were not destroyed by the less-than-perfectly-healthy temporary meal practices.
Finally, it really bugs me to see anyone sneer at edible food on moral grounds. Food is such a class marker in the US, and people turning up their noses at the food choices of lesser folks, even if they have to endure that cuisine for just a few days, really pisses me off. I know far too many people IRL who would not be caught dead at a sports bar/eating anything fried/drinking either beer or soda. This makes me very grumpy, because American sports bars are among the warmest places I know; people who go there are not trash.
Send in those stories! You know you want to…
As for road food… my Dad is a big fan of a book called Road Food that lists interesting restaurants you can eat at while traveling around America. There were childhood road trips where we detoured out of our way to go eat pie and some place that had been written up in Road Food! I don’t go to that extreme at all, and in fact would be content enough to eat at chains while traveling. I’m not really a culinary traveler. The things I love about travel aren’t really about the food (except for the excuse to eat a lot more ice cream than usual- I’m with you on that one!) so I mostly just look for places I know my kids can find something they’ll eat. But my husband does like to sample local foods (and beers!) more when traveling, so I’ve gotten pretty good at finding those places during my trip planning process. We eat at a mix of interesting places for my husband and chains because my kids like them. And as long as we can walk or take public transit to the restaurant so I can have a beer or two with dinner, everyone is happy!
Of your list “who would not be caught dead at a sports bar/eating anything fried/drinking either beer or soda,” I am guilty of one violation—I don’t willingly go to sports bars. It isn’t because of the people there, but because sports bars have large video monitors always running and are usually noisy. I find video monitors distracting when I’m not interested in the content, and I’m getting deaf enough that noisy venues make it almost impossible for me to hear what the people I’m with are saying. I’d much rather eat in a bus station than in a sports bar. (Incidentally, Betty’s Noodles in the Santa Cruz bus station is pretty good, and excellent value for money.)
Road food is not gross. Road food is part of the adventure! There were a few times traveling across country when my kids and I would have loved to see a McDonald’s, but there’s a lot of miles between stops in some states. The night we ate powdered Donut Gems that tasted like diesel fuel because they’d been in the gas station so long was one of those nights.
Road food is part of the adventure!
Normally I’d agree with everything you’ve written. But after spending the last 10+ days on an impromptu hurricane-related road trip or eating out because we still don’t have power, I’d fucking kill for some locally sourced snooty person food!
Anon, I am so sorry! I hope the power is back soon and things go back to normal.