Friday, June 10, 2011

The Journey Begins

Two foodie parents, two picky kids, and one foodie kid on a westward bound quest to eat at as many hole-in-the-walls, greasy spoons, and kitschy kitchens Route 66 has to offer.

Meet the whole fandamnly:

Collin: a hardbodied soccer-playing, donut-eating, Spanish professor at a small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania. 

Won't eat: mayonnaise, cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, or butter (unless it's baked in something). 

Loves: a good burger, DONUTS, and toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made with strawberry freezer jam on La Brea Bakery organic wheat bread.

Tara: a roller derby skating, book-loving, mah jongg playing, freelance writer and photographer. 

Won't eat: mayonnaise or beef and/or strange meats (blood sausage). 

Loves: ICE CREAM, ethnic food of all kinds, vegetarian food, pasta, cheese, and pulled pork sandwiches.

Aidan: an iPod touch obsessed, airsoft gun toting, water balloon lobbing, spitball shooting, sweetest 11-year-old boy in the world. (PICKY EATER) 

Won't eat: cheese (unless it's melted in something), tomato sauce, or beans. However, he will force most anything down by filling his mouth with water, carefully inserting dreaded food, and swallowing. 

Loves: MEAT, cold cereal, Sticky Bun milkshakes from the Freez, ice cream sandwiches, and raspberry yogurt.

Emma: an art-crazed, teeny-tiny figure making, makeup sneaking, doll loving, storytelling, adorable little bookworm. (EVEN PICKIER EATER) 

Won't eat: anything with sauce (unless it's cream or cheese based), vegetables (especially cooked ones), beans, most meats, anything that "looks yucky." Will sit alone at the kitchen table 3 hours after everyone else has finished eating rather than eat 5 green beans.

Loves: cheese, pasta, ice cream, and all junk food, especially CHOCOLATE and baked goods. Thinks she has become less picky because she just started eating Spicy Nacho Doritos.

Ian: a Wii playing, school-loving, soccer practicing, hot dog eating, frog-obsessed, will-try-anything-but -Cheerios gourmand in the making. (BEST EATER IN THE FAMILY, hands down) 

Won't eat: Cheerios and most cold cereal (except Frosted Miniwheats and Cinnamon Life), he actually screams if a Cheerio rears its ugly head and won't sit next to anyone eating Cheerios. He also doesn't care for mushrooms. 

Loves: hot dogs, especially corn dogs, MEAT, goat cheese, Pad Thai, Indian food, sushi, beans, lemon flavored Italian ice, and on and on. He describes himself as an omnivore.

How our journey began . . .

My husband and I spent a year drooling as we watched Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network. Envying Guy Fieri and his comrades in the field as they sought and devoured all things smoked, baked, battered, and fried before our very eyes. We'd stumble in a zombie-like fashion into our lowly kitchen around midnight and stuff our faces with whatever was close at hand, often something uninspiring like a bowl of Rice Krispies with sliced banana and skim milk. I'd blink blearily mid-bite and groan, "Where am I? Why am I eating these slops?" We were in the depths of despair as we watched Food Network stars moaning in ecstasy as they crunched into onion rings and wiped BBQ sauce off their faces with the backs of their hands. It was pure torture, but we kept watching, drooling, and jonesing. The midnight zombie eating continued. So many wonderful things to eat, but they're all so far away, sigh . . . so yummy . . . want to eat . . . but miles and miles stretch between us and the food . . . sigh.

The catalyst that set us in motion was this: we went to check on our young son who we thought was watching cartoons in the basement. Instead we found him wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and salivating as he watched The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Fried. He looked up at us with his big brown eyes and asked, "Can we eat there sometime?"

"Enough is enough! We can't take it anymore! For the children!," we cried. As fate would have it, we had a family reunion out West coming up in a year. Collin hatched a brilliant master plan to drive from central Pennsylvania to Chicago and gorge our way across America via the mother road. (I think he's an evil genius, but you didn't hear it from me.)

Stay tuned, we hit the road tomorrow.