Monday, July 2, 2007


One of our favorite things to do is take a drive on a hot summer day and stop along the way at a roadside eatery. There is a fine art to frying fries and clam bellies, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, composing lobster salad, or preparing whatever the local versions might be (grilled octopus and fresh sea urchins on the Adriatic, bar-b-que in the American South, tacos in Mexico, parilla, or slowly grilled meats in Argentina). We love to sample local and regional artisans wherever we may be traveling, at home or away.

Just recently, we found ourselves in Castleton, Vermont on a very hot, hazy afternoon hankering for a little local chow. We pulled off the road at the Castleton Snack Bar and ordered up footlong hotdogs with fries (a much better deal than two regular hotdogs). The air was heavy, and the sky was getting dark with big fat rain clouds. We sat at a picnic bench under the shade of a larch tree next to an elderly couple eating an early supper of burgers and onion rings. Our order number was called and lightening forked the sky. Our hotdogs were served on toasted and buttered buns with sweet pepper relish flavored with a spicy kick, and pickles. With the fries we were offered vinegar which comes in a spray bottle, the kind you might see in a hair salon. Take the vinegar. Misted over the fries with plenty of salt, the vinegar provides a little structure to the usual snack shack fry. In the field across the two lane road, two deer ate their own version of roadside dinner. We ran to the car as the thunder cracked over our heads, a sheet of rain and wind moving towards us out of the west, and drove home keeping ahead of one storm, but plunging headlong into another.

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