Why did the chicken...?

We just returned from a trip with our camper trailer, touring the interior of the Western States.

It was a mostly remote trip, sprinkled with doses of civilization in various forms. We took in some classic Americana, and made great memories, too.

One of the interesting differences in culture once you cross the border is the abundance of Latino culture. There are taco trucks almost right away (the one in Oroville, Wash., is tasty and remarkably inexpensive).

If there is one kind of food America is known for, it’s the stuff of diners. Certainly, Guy Fieri has brought attention to all kinds of hidden gems cooking up burgers and hot dogs as well as traditional food for many family operations.

Since our trailer is retro-styled and a vintage model in its own right (from 1975), we liked the idea of a diner meal or two on our trip.The cozy atmosphere is right up our alley.

The Hi-Lo Café in Weed, CA. is worth a detour, but luckily the town of Weed is right at the junction of Highway 97 and Interstate 5. (I don’t know if marijuana is consumed at a higher rate than anywhere else, but the townspeople are friendly and generous.)

The Hi-Lo has been around since the 1950s, owned now by the third generation of an Italian immigrants family. They also own the adjacent motel and have a few RV spots out back by the creek.

We were arriving late and leaving early, so we enjoyed dinner and breakfast the next day at the café. My hubby had meatloaf for dinner (“traditional family recipe”). It tasted just as good as my mom’s meatloaf. I caved in to childhood nostalgia and had chili and chips; a delicious pile of homemade chili over hot, freshly made French fries.

Along with melted cheese and green onions on top, and a Dr. Pepper on the side, I was transported back to my teen years and a diner where we sometimes had lunch on a Saturday.

I am not at all ashamed to say I had banana cream pie for breakfast. It was amazing. I highly recommend it. Martin had homemade buttermilk biscuits and a side of bacon, and he hummed all the way through it. Isn’t it funny how we can be so easily pleased?

Our destination for the trip was a town outside Sacramento, where over 200 vintage trailers were gathering for a rally. What fun we had, meeting people from all over who had trailers from as far back as 1939.

A few were family heirlooms, some were like the ones people remembered as kids and had refurbished, and some were the product of enthusiastic hobbyists. If you are a fan, you can even just visit for the open house on Saturday at Trailerfest. Look it up!

We saw lots of old-fashioned food and drink at the rally — cheese balls with crackers, snickerdoodle cookies, bar trolleys set up for Bloody Marys or martinis, root beer floats, casseroles galore, and more than a few burgers, sandwiches and salads; much of it served in Tupperware or other wonderfully retro dishes.

Being in wine country, we did a bit of wine tasting and we tried a local brew at a microbrewery in Amador County. I did bring home a few bottles to enjoy at home.

My favourite memento was, of course, something for the kitchen. A lady I met one morning in the ladies’ room became a fast friend. She and her husband were celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary at the rally, and they camped in a little 12-foot trailer, the kind known affectionately as “canned ham” trailers because that is their shape.

Peggy and I traded goodies at the end of the weekend. I gave her a jar of our homemade greengage plum chutney, called “Pork Jam”, and she gave me a  vintage salt and pepper set in the shape of chickens (she liked the chickens on our trailer).

I laughed, thinking: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” It must have been to make a new friend.

We came home pleased to have seen so much beautiful scenery and met such wonderful people.

There are differences south of the border, but the smiles and friendship seem the same on both sides of the road.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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