Episode 2: Feasting on Asphalt
I liked this episode less than I did the first one. Even though they blew through St. Louis and featured the best thing, IMHO, in St. Louis out of many: Ted Drewe's frozen custard. AB was certainly brave in trying to learn how to mix the concrete, and yes I am one of those who will wax nostalgic about Ted Drewes until I die.
The segment on Colonel Sanders is pretty interesting but the tidbits on Tea rooms and fried brain sandwiches were a little lame, I thought. The pork steak BBQ was pretty interesting, I didn't realize it reached that far south, oh well, live and learn. I am too big of an Alton Brown fan to give this one up, but I was not impressed.
The best parts of the show have been the background info that they did on each of the segments. The segments themselves weren't all that.
One thing I realized while watching the second episode is that the on site segments are not at all scripted. I thought Alton and the guys did a good job of being boys on a road trip--stopping to see stuff and talk with people--it felt organic. I also think Alton's sharing of his inner dialogue was genuine, like when he was headed out of town after the brain sandwich and acknowledged that perhaps the fact that he didn't like it was evidence of the sandwich "belonging" to the German American community in that area. I also liked that he acknowledged having to think about that more.
In a way, I think this is also a modern day Beowulf meets The Odessey. In this case, the "war and wanderlust" is more an "eat and wanderlust." It's the age old story of wanting to find greater meaning in your life and work by travelling away from things familiar to you. Along the way you meet characters and learn lessons--about humanity and yourself. Alton and the gang are simply updating the plotline for primetime chowhounds (did you hear him give a shout out to chowhounds?). All in all, its not much different that Aesop rewriting Phaedrus for his modern audiences.
Having been on a few road trips for food's sake, I find this series to be realistic. I also like this "reality" series better than almost anything else I've seen.
I'm torn. I wouldn't want to see AB doing a slick, Rachel Ray style food tour, and yet, it feels like there's too much filler and too little content. Like they didn't find enough places they liked well enough to talk about, so they just have to use what footage they have. The after-the-fact automat background was interesting enough, but felt like filler.
I just realized too that I feel like I'm not getting enough info on the places they do stop. They seem to focus on a single food item, e.g., the hamburger at the cafe, the 'concrete' at Ted Drewe's, without discussing other food at that place. Too much filler info, not enough content info. For my taste, that is.
I think I enjoyed #2 better than the first episode, now that I know what to expect and accept that it will be more talking and less eatin. Show us a close up of that brain sandwich! Show us more of that frozen custard and tell us what makes it so damn thick! But I did admittedly enjoy the historical discussions. I never knew Duncan Hines made the first road trip food review book.
And yeah, I caught that reference to chowhounds!
But he's gotta stop that filming while on his bike thing. Yeah, we get that he's on the road, he doesn't have to show us. Talk to us when/where we can hear you instead of the wind.