cover image Plates and Dishes: The Food and Faces of the Roadside Diner

Plates and Dishes: The Food and Faces of the Roadside Diner

Stephan Schacher. Princeton Architectural Press, $16.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-56898-505-3

Schacher traveled across the U.S. and Canada in three stages, first in a 1978 Volkswagen van, then in a 35-foot motor home and, finally, by motorcycle. Over the 13,318 miles he covered, he visited 70 highway eating establishments, and photographed the food he ate and the women who served it to him. The result is a collection that oozes with sentimentality about North American culture. In Wawa, Ontario, Lori smiles kindly, standing before a moose head mounted to a wall. At the Eureka Lodge in Glennallen, Ala., Daphne seems stricken, as if the bear stitched onto the quilt hanging behind her might jump out at any moment. Schacher hit 20 states and six Canadian provinces, and consumed a variety of bland, fried stuff along the way: T-bone steak and fries, cheeseburger and fries, fish and chips, etc. The photos of the food aren't nearly as striking as the ones of the women: most look happy, though some seem resigned or distant, hinting at too many plates served and too many coffee cups refilled.