Roadfood (2002) and food regionalisms (LONG!)
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Mon Sep 2 23:43:15 UTC 2002
THE COAST-TO-COAST GUIDE TO 500 OF THE BEST BARBECUE JOINTS, LOBSTER SHACKS,
ICE CREAM PARLORS, HIGHWAY DINERS, & MUCH MORE
by Jane and Michael Stern
New York: Broadway Books (Random House)
494 pages, paperback, $17.95
2002 new edition
1978 and 1980, Random House
The new edition's out. Now that the library's closed today, I'll finally
get to it.
The Sterns also have www.roadfood.com, a column in GOURMET, and appear on
the Television Food Network and NPR's "The Splendid Table."
It's a wonder that the Sterns are still alive! All those hot dogs and
hamburgers and barbecue! How do they do it?
The Sterns (from Connecticut) have a definite 1950s feel to them. It
seems that every place they ate at was on Route 66 and had Elvis playing on
the juke box. Those 1950s vehicles are even on the cover.
Not a Chinese restaurant is mentioned in the entire book! Almost no
pizza. No Japanese restaurant. No Korean restaurant. No French restaurant.
Maybe one or two Russian restaurants. They reviewed one Hawaiian restaurant
in San Diego, but didn't get to Hawaii or Alaska. Roadfood, as I said, is,
in their definition, mainly hot dogs and hamburgers and barbecue. All the
places that are dying because of chain restaurants, interstate highways, and
The book is a classic on their terms. Some restaurants are left out, some
dishes are left out (I didn't see "chimichanga" mentioned in their visit to
Tucson), some regional dish explanations are repeated for several restaurant
entries from the same area, but these are minor quibbles.
I'll leave out the regionalisms that I already covered on ADS-L in great
detail (hoagies, submarines, poor boys, beef on weck, spiedie, Buffalo wings,
Cincinnati five-way chili, et al.) and cite the others. This is long--please
overlook typing errors.
Pg. 29 (Harraseeket Lobster, Freeport, ME): ...fried onion middles (slick
nuggets that are to fried rings what holes are to donuts)...
Pg. 31 (Moody's Diner, Waldoboro, ME): Here, you can even get that strange
local delight, Grape-Nuts pudding. (..) A _milk shake_, for instance, is
milk and flavoring, whereas a _velvet_ is what most of the rest of the world
knows as a milk shake: milk, flavoring, and ice cream.
Pg. 36 (Baxter's Barbecue, Hyannis, MA): For us, the beverage of choice with
our seafood dinners is the drink known here as "tonic," which is simply the
eastern Bay State word for what the rest of us know as soda pop.
Pg. 37 (Boulevard Ocean View Restaurant, Gloucester, MA): That mainly means
_mariscada_, which is a vast bowl full of littleneck clams, mussels, shrimp,
scallops, and one large lobster in a rich wine/tomato broth with a handful of
Pg. 38 (Caffe Sicilia, Gloucester, MA): In particular, he is proud of his
_cornetti_, which are featherweight confections that resemble croissants but
have a ribbon of lemon filling inside and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Pg. 45 (Ma Glockner's, Bellingham, MA): Her menu was nothing more than meals
built around Berched Chicken, an exclusive process that involves
slow-roasting half a bird with secret spices, followed by a quick turn on the
griddle that flattens out the pieces so they look like they were cooked under
Pg. 46 (Marguerite's, Westport, MA): So when we ask for stuffed quahogs
(clams), she nods approvingly and calls our order by iuts proper local name:
"You want stuffies."
Pg. 37 (Nick's Nest, Holyoke, MA): Frappes are the region's term for milk
shakes: milk, ice cream, and flavoring.
Pg. 51 (Two Sisters, Gloucester, MA): ..._nisu_ (a Finnish bread flavored
Pg. 54 (Woodman's on Essex, Essex, MA): They call it "eat in the rough,"
which means you stand at a counter, yell your order through the commotion,
then wait for your number to be called.
Pg. 59 (Polly's Pancake Parlor, Sugar Hill, NH): ...maple hurricane sauce
(syrup and apples stewed together)...
Pg. 63 (Gray's Ice Cream, Tiverton, RI): Coffee milk is like chocolate milk,
but made with coffee syrup instead of chocolate. "Cabinet" is Rhode
Islandese for a foamy blend of milk, syrup, and ice cream--known elsewhere as
a milk shake...
Pg. 65 (Iggy's Doughboys, Warwick, RI): Here's a place to taste that odd but
beguiling dish unique to the Ocean State, a snail salad. (...) A doughboy
is a small square of puffy fried dough, served hot and rolled in granulated
Pg. 96 (Dickie Dee's, Newark, NJ): No ordinary weenie, Dickie Dee's dog is
an Italian-style (a.k.a. Newark-style) hot dog, meaning it is deep-fried
(like the Texas weiners so popular over in Paterson) and stuffed deep inside
a half-loaf of Italian bread along with fried peppers and onions and fried
Pg. 98 (Libby's Lunch, Patterson. NJ): Texas weiners (usually spelled e-i
rather than i-e) were invented in New Jersey prior to 1920 by John Patrelis,
who worked at his father's hot dog stand at the Manhattan Hotel in Patterson.
According to hot do historian Robert C. Gamer of Wyckoff, Mr. Patrelis
devised a deep-fried frankfurter in a too-short bun, topped with mustard,
onions, and spicy meat sauce, traditionally accompanied by French fries and a
mug of root beer. In 1920 the hot dog stand was renamed the Original Hot
Texas Weiner because Mr. Patrelis believed the sauce to be like Texas chili.
In fact, it is more Greek than Texan; but the Lone Stae moniker stuck, and
today Paterson is rich with Texas weiner shops.
(I blame this guy for my misspellings while in Vienna--ed.)
Pg. 99 (Rutt's Hut, Clifton, NJ): Rutt's hot dogs are known as rippers
because their skin tears and crinkles when they are deep-fried in oil.
Pg. 106 (Mike's Homemade Candies, Cheektowaga, NY): Of Buffalo's many claims
to culinary fame (wings, beef on weck, char-cooked hot dogs), one of the
lesser known stars is sponge candy. Made of molasses that is cooked and spun
to a state of desiccated near-weightlessness, then broken into diaphanous,
double-bite-size hunks and sheathed in dark chocolate (or milk chocolate, if
you prefer), it is known in some parts of the Midwest as seafoam candy or
Pg. 107 (Nick Tahou Hots, Rochester, NY): Tahou's claim to garbage plate
primacy is strong: other restaurants in the Rochester area have tried to put
garbage plates on their menu but have been legally enjoined to rename similar
dishes they serve "Dumpster plates."
Pg. 122 (Longacre Modern Dairy Bar, Bally, PA): ...cherry Coke, Vanilla
Coke, or Hadacol (that's a Coke and root beer combo).
...CMP (chocolate marshmallow peanut sundae)...
Pg. 124 (Original Hot Dog Shop, Pittsburgh, PA): Aside from great fast food
and post-midnight hours, one reason Pittsburghers are so fond of the Original
Hot Dog Shop is that it can trace its heritage back to the Original Famous
Sandwich Shop, where the foot-long hot dog was introduced in 1928.
Pg. 128 (Tony Luke's Old Philly Style Sandwiches, Philadelphia, PA): ...hot
dogs (a.k.a. Texas Tommies)...
Pg. 138 (Kaelin's, Louisville, KY): Louisville's primary claim to culinary
fame is the Hot Brown sandwich, a goopy melted cheese and bacon concoction
invented at the venerable Brown Hotel downtown. Louisville is also known as
a stronghold of burgoo (a hunter's stew traditionally served around Derby t
ime) and the mint julep, which is the sweetest way to absorb bourbon ever
But only one city we know purports to be the source of the cheeseburger,
and that is Louisville. At Kaelin's restaurant, a plaque on the wall says
that Carl Kaelin invented the cheeseburger right here, one day in 1934.
(I'll tell the Los Angeles Public Library to take that 1920s menu with
"cheeseburger" off its online menu collection. Gotta be wrong. Lousville
has a cheeseburger PLAQUE!--ed.)
Pg. 140 (Loudon Square Buffet, Lexington, KY): ...Funmallows, the miniature
marshmallows tinted jolly shades of green, pink, and yellow.
Pg. 153 (Snappy Lunch, Mount Airy, NC): There are, however, other items on
the menu, including a weird Depression-era legacy known as the breaded
hamburger, for which ground beef is extended by mixing it with an equal
portion of moistened bread.
Pg. 159 (Corky's, Memphis, TN): The pork is piled high on a platter with
delicious sweet/hot baked beans, cole slaw, and warm rolls or stuffed into a
Memphis-style sandwich, meaning slaw is included inside the bun and the meat,
of course, is pre-sauced. )...) (Pg. 160--ed.)
,,,Karo nut pie in particular. It is the southern classic, known to most
of the world as pecan pie, nowhere better.
("Karo pie" is not in DARE??--ed.)
Pg. 163 (Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville, TN): ...congealed fruit salad
(the local name for Jell-O).
Pg. 163 (Leonard's, Memphis, TN): ..."Mr. Brown Goes to Town." For years,
we were perplexed by what Mr. Brown was supposed to signify until one day
about a decade ago, a Leonard's waitress named Loretta explained, "Mr. Bron
was the term used for brown-meat barbecue. It is the putside of the shoulder
that get succulent and chewy from the sauce and the smoke in the pit. The
inside part of the roast, which is moist but has very little barbecue flavor,
is known as Miss White. People in Memphis used to ask for plates and
sandwiches of 'Mr. Brown and Miss White.'"
Pg. 173 (Sylvan Park, Nashville, TN): There is no better place to luxuriate
in the echt-Nashville meal known as meat-and-three. (You choose one meat and
three suitable side dishes to go with it from a daily list.)
("Meat-and-three" is not in DARE. The earliest cite I found on the Dow Jones
database was from about 1990, and it was an article by the Sterns--ed.)
Pg. 176 (Doumar's, Norfolk, VA): At the World's Fair of 1904, Mr. Doumar
introduced a novel way of serving and eating ice cream: the cone.
(Oh, you Sterns! Did I tell you that I discovered America?--ed.)
Pg. 186 (Coleman's Fish Market, Wheeling, WV): ...JoJo potates (extra thick
Pg. 186 (Country Club Bakery, Fairmont, WV): Originally invented at the
Country Club Bakery by Giuseppe Agrio in 1927, pepperoni rolls were a
favorite food among miners, who could carry them underground without fear of
spoilage and eat them with little mess.
(I don't think OED even has "pepperoni" in 1927--ed.)
Pg. 200 (Dew Drop Inn, Mobile, AL): A minority of hot dog connoisseurs order
them "upside down" (the dog sits atop the condiments) and it is also possible
to get them "shaved" (without kraut).
Pg. 207 (Wintzell's Oyster House, Mobile, AL): ...a definitive version of
the unique Mobile specialty, West Indies salad. No one knows how West Indies
salad became such a favorite city dish, but it's one every visitor must try:
nothing but hunks of crabmeat marinated in oil and vinegar with grated onio
Pg. 211 (The Dixie Pig, Blytheville, AR): The one dish that is pure Arkansan
at The Dixie Pig is salad, which is the very strange pork-belt specialty
known as barbecue salad (here, "Pig Salad"). While most local restaurants
serve it with the lettuce, tomato, etc., topped by a pile of barbecue, the
Dixie Pig does it the opther way around...
Pg. 228 (Dillard House, Dillard, GA): Don't miss the calico salad, a
refreshing mix of pickled tomatoes and cucumbers.
Pg. 233 (Nu-Way Weiners, Macon, GA): Note the extra chocolaty chocolate
milk, and soft drinks served over Nu-Way's famous "flaky ice."
Pg. 241 (Lasyone's Meat Pie Kitchen, Natchitoches, LA): ...but the sweet
tour de force here is a dish invented by Mrs. Lasyone called Cane River cream
pie--a variant of Boston cream pie, made with gingerbread instead of white
(See ADS-L archives for Natchitoches meat pie--ed.)
Pg. 244 (Prejean's, Lafayette, LA): The menu is big and exotic, featuring
dozens of dishes you'll not find on menus outside Louisiana, from crisp-fried
crawfish boudin balls and catfish Catahoula (stuffed with crawfish, shrimp,
and crab) to eggplant "pirogues" (canoes) hollowed out, fried, and filled
with crawfish and red snapper fillet, then drizzled with buttery lobster
Pg. 246 (Abe's Bar-B-Q, Clarksdale, MS): Boston butt is hickory cooked,
cooled, then hacked into pieces and reheated on the griddle until slightly
crusty at the edge.
Pg. 253 (Bowens Island, Charleston, SC): ...Frogmore stew, the Carolina
coast specialty that combines shrimp, sausage, and corn.
(Not in DARE--ed.)
Pg. 256 (Jestine's Kitchen, Charleston, SC): And for dessert, beyond
celestial coconut cream pie, we recommend a dish we've never seen served in
another restaurant, but which is a favorite among southern home cooks,
Pg. 270 (Gene & Georgetti, Chicago, IL): They are accompanied by thick
cottage fried potato chips and, if you've got a big-time appetite, preceded
by the cornucopic tossed antipasto known as "garbage salad": iceberg lettuce,
celery, tomato, radish, slivers of cheese and salami, pepperoncini, and pink
shrimp lightly marinated in an Italian vinaigrette.
Pg. 275 (Ricobene's Chicago, IL): Italian beef gets all the glory when
Chicago street food is discussed, and Ricobene's serves a fine beef sandwich
with natural gravy; but the main claim to fame of this 1946-vintage
Bridgeport eatery (now moved to spiffy new quarters) is its breaded steak
sandwich. A great Italian-American neighborhood invention, the sandwich is a
vast, pounded-thin sheet of meat that is lightly breaded and fried, then
rolled into a bundle and stuffed inside a long loaf of Italian bread with a
coat of red "gravy" (tomato sauce).
Pg. 284: ...C.L.O.T.H. was the acronym for cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato
and ham on ordinary bread, i.e., a fairly unremarkable sandwich.
Pg. 288 (Baker's Cafeteria, Des Moines, IA): The best of the pies for
dessert is the Heartland favorite, raisin pie--heaps of bloated cooked
raisins in sweet goo spilling out their triangle of fragile crust.
(John Mariani has this under "funeral pie" and states that it's Pennsylvania
Dutch, not Heartland--ed.)
Pg. 292 (In't Veld Meat Market, Pella, IA): For those in search of regional
specialties, the meat to eat is ring bologna, also known as Pella bologna,
because this town is the only place it is made. It is a tube of sausage
about as thick as a pepperoni stick, curled into a horseshoe shape, smoked
and cured and ready to eat.
(In the next volume of DARE?--ed.)
Pg. 309 (Booches, Columbia, MO): The hamburgers--known among old-timers as
"belly bombers"--are thick, juicy, and maddeningly aromatic, served
unceremoniously on a piece of wax paper.
Pg. 313 (Goody Goody Diner, St. Louis, MO): You can even come here and eat
chili for breakfast--as part of an amazing platter of food known as "The
WIlbur." Don't ask us how it got its name, but a Wilbur is a variation of
what other St. Louis diners call a Slinger; in this case, it is a three-egg
omelet filled with chili, hash brown potatoes, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
Pg. 316 (O. T. Hodge, St. Louis, MO): The menu is a lexicon of diner lingo,
including "balloon juice" (seltzer water), "sweep the kitchen" (hash), and
"put out the lights and cry" (liver and onions).
Pg. 217 (The Parkmoor, St. Louis, MO): You can even get a side dish of the
St. Louis fave, toasted ravioli (deep-fried dumplings).
Pg. 319 (Ted Drewes, St. Louis, MO): The best-known dish in the house is
called a concrete, which is a milk shake so thick that the server hands it
out the order window upside down, demonstrating that not a drop will drip
Pg. 322 (Bun's Restaurant, Delaware, OH): ...and something known as a
"Bunwich" (Bun was the nickname of founder George Hoffman's son), which is
ham and cheese grilled on whole wheat.
Pg. 324 (Golden Plaza, Belle Valley, OH): Broasted means pressure-cooked,
the results of which is crisp-skinned pieces of ultra-moist white meat and
super-ultra-moist dark meat that slide off their bones at the slightest
Pg. 326 (Bendtsen's Bakery, Racine, WI): If you don't know what a kringle
is, think of an ordinary Danish, like you have with morning coffee. Now,
imagine its crust buttery and feather-light, almost like a croissant's, and
fill it with a ribbon of pecan paste and chopped nuts, or a layer of almond
macaroon paste, or a tunnel of cherry and cheese. Picture it as bug as a
Christmas wreath, a ring that is about a foot nad a half across and iced with
sugar glaze or flavored frosting. There you have one of the great breakfast
(or tea time) treats in America, a dish that is virtually unknown outside the
city of Racine.
("Kringle" is mentioned by John Mariani, who cites the Sterns. DARE is based
in Wisconsin, but didn't think enough of "kringle" to include it? Joan,
Luanne, what do you have for breakfast??--ed.)
Pg. 328 (Chili John's, Green Bay, WI): The style of chili that John invented
is now popular throughout Wisconsin, but the best place to have it is at the
original location. Here in Green Bay, many people know it as "Texas-style"
chili, apparently referring to the fact that it's peppery; but in fact, it's
(The Sterns have a recent book called CHILI NATION--ed.)
Pg. 330 (Jo's Cafe, Milwaukee, WI): Hoffel poffel isn't widely known
anywhere else in the U.S. that we are aware of, although we have seen
versions of it (called hoppel poppel) in Iowa. It is one gigantic breakfast
plate of a few eggs scrambled with chunks of potato, some onions, and, at
Jo's, lots of nuggets of spicy salami and, optionally, some cheese on top.
(Not in DARE, whose editors never eat breakfast?--ed.)
Pg. 346 (Wolf Lodge Inn, Coeur d'Alene, ID): Cowboy-cuisine aficionados
like to start supper with a plate of "swinging steak"--sliced and crisp-fried
bull testicles, served with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
Pg. 361 (Club El Toro, Hudson, WY): There are French fries or a foil-wrapped
baked potato, but the one and only proper companion to such a steak (or any
of El Toro's beef) is "cowboy fries," which are what some know as jojo
potatoes: spiced potato logs accompanied by ranch dressing as a dip. (...)
Sarma is an unusual treat, a staple of the Serrbian kitchen--and of
Hudson's two great steak houses (Svilar's being the other one). It is a
thick, boiled-tender leaf of pickled cabbage rolled around a tightly packed
filling of ground pork and beef with onions.
Pg. 373 (El Charro, Tucson, AZ): The tostada grande, first made here by
founder Monica Flynn, is a broad cheese crisp known on local menus as a
Pg. 394 (Horseman' s Haven, Santa Fe, NM): At breakfast and lunch, there is
fiery carne adovada (tender chucnks of chile marinated pork), served in the
morning with eggs, potatoes, and a warm homemade tortilla on the side.
Pg. 401 (Jiggs Smoke House, Clinton, OK): We are particularly fond of
super-tender "pigsickles"--patties of smoked boneless pork rib bathed in
spicy sweet sauce--..
Pg. 403 (Johnnie's, El Reno, OK): We also like breakfast at Johnnie's, when
the little place is packed with locals eating Arkansas sandwiches (that's a
pair of pancakes layered with a pair of eggs) and three-dollar
all-you-can-eat platters of biscuits and gravy.
Pg. 405 (Robert's, El Reno, OK): Robert's is a good place to sample El
Reno's second passion (after onion-fried burgers)--slaw-topped hot dogs,
which are known here as Coney Islands.
Pg. 414 (Emilia's, Brownsville, TX): The meal we recommend highest is
picadillo, a South Plains version of the Cuban ground-beef dish in which
sauteed beef, well spiced and laced with sweet bits of onion and nuggets of
fried potato, is folded into one of Emilia's giant-size flour tortillas.
Pg. 430: (Southside Market & Bar-B-Cue, Elgin, TX): Of all its smoky
delights, Elgin is best known for muscular tubes of ground beef sausage known
among connoisseurs as Elgin hot guts, their succulent insides flecked with
pepper, their exteriors ready to pop at first bite.
Pg. 433 (Weikel's Store and Bakery, La Grange, TX): Although it does
physically resemble a Danish, a good kolache is in a league by itself, made
with dough that is fluffy and elegant, and filled with top-quality apricot or
prune preserves, cream cheese, or a sweetened paste of poppy seeds.
Pg. 458 (LG's Prime Steak House, Palm Springs, CA): Also notable are "wagon
wheels"--hoops of onion, each as big as a fat silver bracelet, fried in herb
batter and served with a pitcher of ranch dressing as a condiment.
Pg. 468 (Circle S Barbeque, Pendleton, OR): Throughout much of the West, red
beer is made by mixing beer and tomato juice (in varying ratios)--a sort of a
frontier Bloody Mary (but without the celery stalk). Our waitress said that
she preferred to make her red beer with V-8.
Pg. 476 (Frank's Diner, Spokane, WA): To serious West Coast eaters, the name
"Joe," when used to describe any egg dish, is reminiscent of the San
Francisco Italiante meal known as a "New Joe Special," for which eggs and
ground beef are scrambled together, usually with peppers, onions, and cheese.
Frank's Joe Special is a mere three eggs with ground beef, spinach, and
onion and flavored with Parmesan cheese.
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