Eating on the road:
By Frank Orrall
In the Hitchcock movie "North by Northwest" there is a scene in the Mt. Rushmore visitor
center diner that really blew me away when I saw this recently. In this scene there was no advertising at all in that cafeteria;
no coca cola signs... nothing. Most likely there was only a sign that read "milk" on the big silver handle of the
milk dispenser, that's it. This is the world I came into while my parents drove our station wagon from state park to state
park on vacation in the early 60's. Now days, as we all know, the big chains have scarred the face of "The Road"
so much so that you can't even tell what state you are in anymore.
Mom and pop food is still there, but you just
have to dig deeper.
Take the commercial road exits or frontage roads instead of the convenient Hwy of road stop stations,
and look for something that has no chance of ever becoming a chain but has a few cars or trucks parked out front.
like truck stop food for the culture... not the food.
I am quite happy with a BLT, Biscuits and gravy or a grilled cheese
in this environment.
But, to be honest, I'd rather save it for a good dish in a local favorite restaurant at our destination
town / city.
I can really only eat 1 real meal a day on the road and I want it to be good.
The club usually offers
something to the band like pizza etc., for a meal after sound check, but I don't like to eat right before shows because
it makes me feel sluggish on stage.
I like to hit my main meal well before show time - which usually makes that a late
lunch for me.
eat fast food if I am drunk or desperate, then I do it with no shame. Fast food operates on the notion that people like to
know what they are going to eat when they order it. this back fires with me; I like to be surprised. I can handle anything.
I have a strong stomach and a penchant for more spice than any restaurant can give me.
People sometimes make the argument that, say Subway is a nice healthy road stop, but it is a soul
sucking experience - only to be done if you have to.
Even most truck stops these days are in fact just corporate
gas / food plazas. Only in the southwest or deep south can you find the last outposts of the real thing.
My road food routine is this:
1 - Take the ground coffee, fruit and bread from the catering/deli
tray the night before and put it in the bus or van for the morning. In the morning I make coffee with a portable espresso
/ coffee machine and have some plain bread and maybe some fruit.
Drive; trying to avoid the chip & soda temptations
of the road (if anything I'll grab a grilled cheese at a nice looking truck stop).
2 - Arrive
at the city / load in to the club.
Then either before sound check or right after, I go and drop my entire per-diem on
a proper fucking lunch, in a really good place, one the club recommends.
I'd rather spend my whole per-diem on
1 good appetizer & a glass of wine than $20 of truck stop or mini mart food.
I don't need a lot of food -
I just like it to be good tasting, well prepared food.
not a a bitch, I just want something with some soul.
3 - After the show I just want to drink.
If anything I'll nibble whatever is left of our deli tray (steal the coffee and a bit of bread for breakfast)
and if I'm drunk, find some recommended street food.
On the road I like to put myself in some local person's hands who look like
I like not being in control of my travel
experience, but I hate being a sucker for souless corporate vultures.
One of the best tour lunches I ever had:
While on our first tour of Europe, we pulled into Bologna, Italy & checked into our hotel. There was only one
person working the hotel, an older gentleman, & he was the one checking us in. He was also the one making us espressos
after we were all sorted with our room keys. He handed me my espresso in a ceramic cup w/ saucer, I asked him if it
would be alright if I could take the cup 'outside' for a smoke... he looked at me perplexed and said "why, yes, of course"
(I was so used the states hotels and their obsession with Styrofoam for 'outside use' to avoid someone stepping on broken
glass and suing them).
I then asked him where we might find some lunch in the area (as it was Sunday and most places
were closed), He said we could sit on the patio outside and he would "make us something".
No ordering. No
one in the group making 'special requests'... nothing. We sat down and enjoyed the back yard afternoon, and one by one he
started dropping plates of simple sandwiches, salad and antipasto, bottles of red & white wine, and water. He put this
lunch together himself in the kitchen. There was no menu. there was no plastic or Styrofoam.
It was good because it was simple and good & because we didn't order it. We
got what the house offered. We were in good hands, and they took care of the details for us. I like that.
Poi dog pondering at lunch in Bologna Italy:
Deanne Franklin, John Nelson, Susan
Voelz, Max Crawford,
Mike Stewart, Frank Orrall, Ted Cho & Adam Sultan.
Meals on the day off are a whole
not trying to save money on tour to bring home and pay some bills. Tour is a gift to me, I feel I'm lucky to be there; I'm
gonna have a good time and a nice meal on my day off. I will ask around and get the skinny on a good local place and throw
down some money to taste the local flavor. This is a photo from a delicious lunch me and some members of Thievery Corporation
had on a day off in Mexico City. Mexico City is a food capital, Mexicans like to eat well. You can hardly go wrong anywhere.
The salsas there where a revelation to me. But, don't expect enchiladas and tacos everywhere, Mexico city has a lot more to
Members of T.C. at lunch in Mexico City:
Miss Yasmin, Natalia Clavier & Frank Orrall