What is the balance between wanting to experience new things and having the comfort of familiar ones?
Where do you sit on this scale? I am someone who hates missing out. I love new opportunities to try things.
Our road trip has been full of adventures of all kinds. As a foodie, of course I have looked for fun food to try. Just like the roads, those foods have taken us in all directions. Adventure verses comfort.
We have had traditional specialties in many places—poutine in Quebec from a roadside “casse-croute” in a northern town, lobster in Maine by the ocean in Bar Harbour, beer and pretzels in Vermont at the Von Trapp family lodge and a funnel cake at the Six Flags amusement park in Darien Lake, NY.
Last week, I also told you about the traditional Monster Cookies my friend grew up with and still makes for her family. (Scroll down to see her recipe.)
All these foods got my two thumbs up, both for taste and for the fun we shared while having them. We had lots of fun on our own too:
• Retro drive-in restaurants across America, like the Fat-Boy Drive-In. in Brunswick, Maine, where it still has car hop service, even in the pouring rain, bless their hearts. Great burgers and their signature “frappe” (translation: thickest, tastiest milkshake ever). The White Turkey Drive-In outside Erie, Pennsylvania is a classic too. Its “loose meat” (as in shredded) turkey sandwich sounded weird, but it was delicious, especially eaten on the shores of Lake Erie with its root beer float.
• Biscuits and gravy. This is not a health-conscious food, especially when you pair it with fried chicken, like they do at Cracker Barrel (full disclosure: they tell you how many calories it is, and what a full day’s allotment should be. You order at your own discretion.) It’s worth the risk to try it at least once. And the gift store is an experience in itself.
• Chicken wings. You might think this couldn’t be a new experience, but Hubbie ordered some at a craft brew pub in Solon, Indiana (great beers at Big Grove). They must have come from body-building chickens, they were enormous. And the hot sauce, oh yeah, it was hot. I guess that helps beer sales.
Being in America is not exactly living on the edge for exotic foods. Our trip in 2019 to Africa certainly exposed us to many more weird and unusual flavours. But it has been a wonderful trip eating our way across this nation and learning more about what kind of fun locals like to have in each place.
Now that we are on the final leg of our journey, headed gradually home after our week in Yellowstone National Park, we are thinking more of comfort foods we know. Perhaps it’s the colder weather (it was -2 C outside this morning). Or maybe it’s just a way that our bodies are telling us it’s time to head back. That seems to me to be a sign of a perfect vacation.
For now, there are still a few adventures to be had with that comfort food. We are packing up cashews and our home-dried raisins for a hiking snack as we head out to see Old Faithful and other geysers in the park.
Hubbie made Rice Krispie squares with the last of our tired marshmallows from the s’mores stock for dessert after our hike. Later, we will feast on pasta with some foraged wild mushrooms, something we know from home but with mushrooms that live just as comfortably in the forests here.
Here's to feasting on life, wherever we are and with whatever we find along the way.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.