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Road food

(article, Culinate staff)

Today is the last day of May — making tomorrow, unofficially, the start of the summer travel season. Which means, for most Americans, a vast array of junk food, fast food, and otherwise questionable foodlike substances, since that's what's largely available in the nation's airports, train stations, bus depots, rest stops, gas stations, and other places travelers must pass through.

On the blog Poor Man's Feast, Elissa Altman lamented the state of American eating on the road, calling it America's largest food desert and, paraphrasing Michael Pollan, dubbing the problem "America's Most Important Food Rule":

bq. So long as you’re getting from Point A to Point B by plane, train, bus, or automobile, culinary and nutritional time stops. Food ceases to matter. Health issues flitter away like moths in a storm; gastronomical quality is neither assumed nor expected. Calories, fat — all of it stops counting. While you’re on the road, your blood cholesterol automatically plummets to that of an infant born to vegan parents in south Asia.

But as Andy Isaacson recently pointed out in the New York Times, if you're OK with the low mileage and gas expense of driving an RV, you can somewhat ameliorate the road-food problem, since you bring your kitchen with you. Here's how his road trip began:

bq. Packing for an RV road trip is like preparing for a weekend at a cozy cabin. The luxury of space and the semblance of domestic life inspired me to carry things like candles and paprika, soft cotton sheets and extra pillows. I took sharp knives, folding chairs and musical instruments and put avocados and lemons in a bowl on the kitchenette counter. We hung up our coats in the closet, with hangers. As I drove the rig, Tyson and Angelina put away groceries. . . . Abrupt turns would cause the drawers and cabinets to fly open, prompting a scramble for rolling onions.

Of course, if you follow Jane and Michael Stern and their Roadfood work, you're going to be looking for America's temples of old-fashioned road food wherever you go. But no, you definitely won't be losing weight on the Stern diet.