01 February 2012


CA and I have gone on a lot of road trips during the past 12 months--and I've done several alone and with friends. The one consistently disappointing factor is road food. I start every road trip full of optimism and good intentions toward my nutritional standards. I'm committed to avoiding fried foods and snacks.

These resolutions are history by the end of day 1.

The facts are that we end up eating fast food once or twice a day on every road trip--usually successfully finding a real restaurant for dinner--because fast-food chain outlets have spread across the country, monopolizing every Interstate exit.

I like to call it the homogenization of America. No matter what route you take or which state you're in, the same choices are on offer--McDonald's, Subway, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy's... If by chance there's a regional fast food outlet (Chick-fil-a, Culver's, Sonic, etc.) most everything is fried or covered in cheese.

And, usually the lower calorie menu selections are mostly salads--salads poured from a big bag of pre-cut, pre-washed, chemically-treated lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage. Salads that are semi-limp and rancid with the over-shadowing metallic taste of preservative sprays. Even the steakhouses and other higher-end chain restaurants we see along the highways are using the same bagged salads.

I've come to believe that most Americans have lost touch with the taste of freshly prepared salad ingredients. (I rarely experience a companion complaining about the quality of the salad course.) Hello? Tomatoes are not supposed to be pink. Lettuce should be cold, dry, and crunchy. Red onions are only appetizing if they are crisp and fresh. Shredded cheese isn't supposed to be coated with cellulose. Croutons are by definition crunchy bits of buttered toast.

I'll confess to being more than a bit of a food snob and my taste buds can be overly sensitive, but come on! These salad options are not inexpensive, and they are definitely not tasty. Why waste money, calories, or time on inferior food?

Why? Because, in most cases, that's all you can find while "on the road." So, the fries start looking and smelling tempting and the sad hamburgers become the least offensive option.

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