As you read this, Kim and I will be off on a rare road trip, going to the Land of Lincoln (literally, since our 16th president had a law practice in the small town where we’re going. So did Adlai Stevenson, though his star has shone less bright in the galaxy of history).
The event is family related and the route won’t take us far off I-55 at any point. This means classic interstate travel with all its corporate culinary sameness, though (as mentioned last week) that’s not always a bad thing. Though we’ll be out of the South fairly quickly, we’re assuming one place we’ll stop will be a Waffle House for at least one breakfast. I’m not much of a breakfast eater unless I’m on the road, and Waffle House is one of my long-time touchstones of being mobile over long distances. Say what you want about the quality of the place, but it’s always the same.
All of us have certain types of places we default to in certain situations and conditions. If I’m sad or otherwise thoughtful about something, I want a burger – and not always one of quality. If I feel like celebrating, I go Mexican or for pizza. I prefer Mediterranean if I’m in the mood for good conversation with close companions. If I feel successful, I opt for steak. Seafood fills the bill if I’m feeling nostalgic, since I lived for so many years in Florida. You get the idea.
I’ll be sure to report back on this pork loin sandwich I mentioned a few columns ago. I’ll also be sure to take note of any other memorable Midwestern meals, if there are any. Given where we’re going and how we’re getting there, I am sure we’ll hit a new (to us) chain operation or two just so we’ll know what’s going on. And, of course, Illinois means Steak ‘n’ Shake (it’s based in quaintly named town of Normal IL), so a small pot of their wonderful baked beans will certainly be in order. It’s been a decade or so since I’ve had any.
Craig Giesecke has been a broadcaster and journalist for over 30 years, including nearly two decades at the AP and UPI covering news, sports, politics, food and travel. He has been the owner of J’anita’s for five years, serving well-reviewed upscale bar food and other dishes. Comments are encouraged and welcomed.