cover image Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food

Jane Stern, Michael Stern, . . Houghton Mifflin, $24 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-618-32963-2

The authors of Roadfood are crazy for American local food, that often informal, inexpensive cuisine that's not especially healthy but sure is tasty. The husband-and-wife team has traveled the country since the 1970s, seeking out the sort of food found in "unlikely restaurants in small towns and off two-lane highways," which, naturally, leads to all manner of fish-out-of-water scenarios, which they relate in this endearing chronicle. The Sterns' adventures are funny, if not quite perilous; the car breaks down in Enigma, Ga.; six jugs of iced tea bought at a South Carolina restaurant leak all over the car's floor, which the Sterns don't realize until days later, when they're nearing the Mojave Desert and could really use a refreshment. Their enthusiasm is inspiring; they regularly consume 100 meals in 10 days or less, but that only makes them more passionate for road food. Their descriptions of their grail are the book's highlights: baby back ribs at Carson's, in Skokie, Ill., for instance, are "sensuously sticky with a baked-on sauce that [is] striated red-gold as if it had been painted by an artist of the Hudson River School"; caramel rolls at North Dakota's Havana Cafe are "light and fluffy, swirled with veins of caramel frosting." (May)