Jane’s Diary: The Way It Was And The Way It Is Now

A long time ago a wealthy entrepreneur interested in investing in Roadfood took us to lunch and asked us what our “five year plan” was. We had no answer.

To be honest we do not have one today, and if pressed may admit that we do not even have a “five minute plan”. We just roll along trying to enjoy ourselves and immerse ourselves in what interests us.

“Crazy”, possibly, “immature”, certainly, but that was the mindset that brought about Roadfood in the first place.

Some of our readers know the origins of the forty plus year endeavor that is Roadfood. For those who don’t this is the synopsis. Michael and I met when we were grad students at Yale in 1968. He was getting a PhD in Art History, I, an MFA in Fine arts. After a few grueling years in academia’s ivory tower  we decided that Art History and Fine Art was the last thing we wanted to do. The first thing we wanted to do was take a road trip and find something good to eat.

Our diplomas attest to where our minds were but our hearts were going in another direction. We had fallen in love not only with each other but also with the idea of grand adventures on and off America’s highways.

As only two people who had never traveled beyond their hometowns, with no job offers, $1500 in the bank and a broken down VW Beetle would dare to do, we concocted a grand plan. We would drive all over America, eat at every restaurant and write a guidebook about it. We based our plan on an old Rand McNally Road Atlas that showed the entire United States on a two-page map. It was about a foot wide and ten inches high. Every state was colored a different hue. It was almost laughable how easy it all seemed.

Because we lived in tiny Connecticut that was an obvious place to start. We opened the local Yellow Pages to restaurants. We started with the “A’s”, The Acropolis Diner was our first hit. Four months later we were just beginning the “D’s” and had gone 15 miles from home. It was clear the plan needed a major re-do.

So we said good bye to the run down cabin in the woods that we lived in, put what we owned in the car (including our beautiful bull dog Richard) and set out for…. we had no idea what.

It took two and a half years of travel to put the original manuscript together. We learned quickly 1) America is huge 2) Every region in the country is unlike any other region 3) America had the most spectacular and underappreciated food we had ever seen.

We had run away from a future we did not want and stumbled into an obsession that has lasted all our lives. No one had cataloged regional American food in depth before us, certainly no one said where to find it. The term Regional American Food itself was unknown as was the appellation “Foodie”.

Back in the day there were few chain motels, no GPS, no cell phones, no Internet and no other guidebooks to consult. But that was the way we liked it, we wanted to get lost in America, and we did.

Because it is now 2017, damn far from 1968 we have obviously stayed the course. We may not have had a five-year plan but we had a forty-five year plan and we are still on the road in search of our original quest.

We are no longer married, and we live in different parts of the country, but we are still dear friends and writing partners. Our sensibility has stayed in synch for decades, which is something of a miracle.

As Michael continues to post Roadfood reviews online I am going to write an ongoing Roadfood Diary of which this is the first installment. I will share our adventures with you, past and present, and occasionally allow myself the luxury of a rant about the state of the foodie world today. It will not be chronological but I think you will see (in its own patchwork way) why once we got on the road we never wanted to get off.

I hope you enjoy reading it!

-Jane

 

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