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Two for the Road

"Jane and Michael Stern [are] America's leading authorities on the culinary delights to be found while driving." — Newsweek

About the Book

Jane and Michael Stern are undoubtedly the premiere authorities on American roadfood. They've been driving, eating, and chronicling barbecue pits, hamburger joints, clam shacks, ice cream parlors, diners, and the like for over thirty years. They've brought roadfood into mainstream pop culture through their bestselling glove-box bible Roadfood (in print since 1978), their monthly column in Gourmet magazine, and a weekly spot on public radio's The Splendid Table.

Two for the Road:  Our Love Affair with American Food (Houghton Mifflin Company, May 5, 2006) chronicles the never before told culinary adventures of Jane and Michael Stern's lifelong road trip. It is filled with the food American's love to eat: velvety barbecue pork sandwiches, lazy-susan's filled with crunchy fried chicken, blue ribbon blueberry pies, fluffy buttermilk biscuits, and more. It's also filled with larger-than-life characters and paved with ridiculous escapades. This laugh-out-loud account is more than just the Stern's story, it's a memoir of American roadfood past and present. This book is cultural anthropology at its best.

As you read Two for the Road, you'll find that driving across the country looking for the best regional foods isn't always a picnic. Some of their unexpected revelations include:

• How unrealistic they were when they first started (they had trouble making it out of Connecticut)

• Why the more pigs displayed on a restaurant menu is a good thing. Jane and Michael have a pig rating system instead of a star rating system. Large crabs, cows, and Jesus pictures are also indicators of a good roadside joint.

• How they cheat when they eat. Eating twelve meals a day is an impossible feat, even for pros like the Sterns. Waitresses sometimes wonder how they ate the whole lobster — shell and all! (Jane carries oversize purses.)

• The strange looks town people give Michael as he takes pictures of his cheese sandwich.

• The need for roomier clothing and Jane's discovery of Amish underpants

• Jane's fear of town doctors names Leroy or Bubba — and how she combs the skinny little phone books in motels looking for doctors with Jewish-sounding names

• Why prison gift shops are a great place to buy presents.

So jump on in and get a front-seat view and an education in roadside restaurants from Jane and Michael Stern — just for the sheer joy of it. You'll also find favorite recipes at the end of each chapter.

About the Authors

Jane and Michael Stern are the authors of the best-selling Roadfood, as well as thirty other books. As contributing editors to Gourmet, they write the James Beard Award-winning monthly column "Roadfood." They appear weekly on The Splendid Table on public radio. Winners of a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award, the Sterns have been inducted into the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. When they are not traveling, they live in West Redding, Connecticut. Visit their Web site at www.roadfood.com.

Weird But True Tidbits from Two for the Road

• When cowboys and rodeo riders need a cure for a hangover, they turn to red beer, a mixture of beer and tomato juice. (page 123)

• You can get a free 72-ounce sirloin steak in Washington. All you have to do is order it at Oasis and finish it within an hour. If you do, it's on the house. (page 127)

• The Sterns favorite diet meal? In Oklahoma it's chicken fried steak — low-fat beef dipped twice in egg wash and seasoned flour, then fried in a cast-iron skillet full of bubbling hot lard. (page 120)

• Salad bars in Iowa do not hold a shred of lettuce. Instead they carry things such as multicolored Jell-O, fruits and vegetables slathered with Miracle Whip or sour cream, and chocolate, tapioca, and vanilla puddings. (page 69)

• Don't look for that great regional delicacy of Maryland — stuffed ham — in restaurants. You'll need to brave "dedicated drinking places" that are "dark, rugged, and plenty scary." (page 93)

• If you're looking for some of the best hot dogs in America, don't turn to Chicago or New York. Head to Rawley's in Fairfield, Connecticut. (page 149)

• Fried chicken is so big in Kansas that food-focused travelers have long referred to Highway 69 as Chicken Dinner Road. (page 219)

• The palate refresher of choice in Rhode Island, and only in Rhode Island, is snail salad cool slices of chewy conch in a garlic marinade. (page 227)

• Roadfood is occasionally repulsive not because it's cooked poorly, but because the concept of the dish affronts the taste buds. Not everyone can stomach chitlins (pig intestines) steamed in vinegar, a pig ear sandwich, or hog maws (pig stomach) served in broth. (page 160)

• The proper attire at a state fair is a good set of overalls. They don't cinch your waist and therefore offer no impediment to serious eating. (page 197)

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