(Photo: Tucson Truck Terminal in Tucson, Arizona)
Of all the roadside diners, truck stop cafe’s, and questionable gas station delis one encounters out on the road, there is one thing most of them have in common: Less-than-edible food. That’s right. I’m not just talking about those tasty-looking pieces of fried chicken that have been sitting in the same spot for hours, either. The one pound belly-bomb burritos in the cooler aren’t exactly the bet thing in the world to consume, either. Let’s face it, some of that stuff takes the meaning of “dine-n-dash” to a whole new level. As connoisseurs of of fine road food, we all need to take a step back, and truly consider what it really is we’re about to inhale, just because we’re hungry and can’t wait to get to the next town of any decent size. That jumbo hotdog Billy is about to chow down on has probably been sitting on the “griller” for at least 5 hours, even though it looks as if it has been there for a week. Truck stop pizza? Can you say “Ex-Lax”?
You’re much better off finding a grocery store, and getting a package of lunch meat, bread, etc, and making some sandwiches. I personally have been in more than a few truck stops, and noticed quite a bit of junk food has been on the shelves long enough to cultivate quite the field of dust. Some would think that’s due to lazy employees, I think it’s more like being due to nobody coming in with fresh stock. Regardless, it’s best to avoid that stuff, as well. More than likely, the expiration date listed on the package has long passed (not to mention some of the people working in those places).
We all want to eat at least a little bit healthier, once in a while…which reminds me of the all-you-can-eat buffets. Love’em or hate’em, they’re also a nuisance. Sure they food looks tasty, but how long has it been sitting around? Not to mention who knows what has been touching the food, besides what you’re supposed to use to pick it up and put it on your plate. Remember: the cost of a trip to the emergency room isn’t priceless, but the look on your face might be, right before you have to call 9-1-1. There won’t be enough Pepto Bismol, Rolaids, or Tums to cure what this stuff can do to you.
So remember, before you take a chomp out of that chimichanga from the gas station you left half an hour ago, or tango with the roadside sushi you saddled into a bag five minutes ago: try to make sure it’s not too far down the road until the next rest stop or town. Road food shouldn’t be like a box of chocolates, it should be something we will enjoy eating.
Until next time,
Bon Appétit, road warriors!