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Feasting on Asphalt-Episode 3

I get it now! I was looking at this thing all wrong, I was expecting something along the lines of the Al Roker vein, I should have known better. This is definitely not one would expect from the Food Network these days. The idea is a sociological look at America through eating, through road foods as it were. Kind of a De Tocqueville/Blue Highways take on these Americas via the search for food and the evolution of the food traditions.

It took me half the damned program tro figure it out too. Tonights episode was the spark. Especially his ruminations in front of the St. Louis Art Museum with the food historian and his time spent in Florence Kansas. The conversations with the waitresses in La Junta Colorado was also a kicker. Since I am reading Blue Highways now, the connection became obvious, the tone of the book is evoked by the long camera shots of the lone highways in Kansas and Colorado. I need to rewatch the other two episodes to see if there were hints in those episodes but I think it just wasn't there, I think AB found his motorcycle legs, as it were in this episode. Very interesting.

I wonder how AB managed to talk the head honchos at the Food Network to go for this. No BAM, no perky lass spouting nonsense, and no plunging cleavages, Hmmm, maybe they have a clue after all. Naaaah.

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  1. You are correct. I almost found myself forgetting that I was watching the food channel simply because it wasn't an overly scripted production that focussed on ooh ahh's.

    It has as much American history in it as food.

    Once you understand what the show is trying to do, it's like a Eureka moment.

    1. I also like the way the show emphasizes "mom and pop" places.

      How many stops are at places where they are trying to capture what once was. How places that are no longer the mainstream now, were the backbone of what evolved out of them.

      Even the nostalgia of visiting times gone by by visiting closed down sites.

      Forgive the pun, but kinda laying out a "roadmap" of how the country evolved in terms of travel food stops.

      1. I think it should not be surprising at all. Alton Brown is more of a teacher, both in this summer series and on "Good Eats". The thing that probably is obvious to the suits at FoodNetwork is the fact that AB comes across as just one of us, he connects with us, entertains us, shares some recipes and techniques, gives us some science and history, and most importantly, keeps us glued to the TV.

        The whole point is to keep the audience tuned in to the FoodNetwork channel and being exposed to the commercials in between "shows". AB delivers those eyes and ears to FoodNetwork.

        Thank goodness there are a few as good as him around. I think the key for us who are more than just the consuming general public, is we have to be discretionary. Don't just leave the FoodTV channel on all day, be selective, choose to watch Alton Brown, or maybe Iron Chef, and choose to watch Anthony Bourdain on his cable channel, and choose to watch old reruns of Julia and Jacques on Public TV, for example.

        The fact that we are all here and call ourselves Chowhounds means that we won't settle for drivel, and we don't have to.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChinoWayne

          Hear hear!

          I think of the Food Network now as an all you can eat buffet, and we, as Chowhounds, just nibble around for the good stuff.

        2. I thought this was a great show! The best part of a road trip are the new tastes and sights. Especially the ones you never expect.
          This is what's great about Alton Brown, he really thinks about what he's goint present.

          Food Network these days is nothing but a formula. Please get rid of Rachel Ray and those two idiots on Road Tasted - that's nothing more than a commercial!

          1. Like Phaedrus I think episode 3 was the one where I get it now, and for the first time I don't feel like it's lacking something. But to me it's more about the spirit of discovery through eating road foods, than a sociological look of America (though it's that too). What I mean is that the adventure of being on the road and learning and discovering things along the way really came through for me in this episode. As if the scripted portion with the food historian about the St Louis fair was out of place (though it was interesting). I enjoyed more the bits about making coffee at 14,000 feet, learning about frybread and having a go at making it, and hearing what a couple of 70something waitresses had to say.

            This series has really grown on me and I'm going to be so sad when the trip's over.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Alice Patis

              "I'm going to be so sad when the trip's over."

              Me too!! I kinda 'got' the show from the begining, but I though they would dally more through out the country. That it would be longer tha 4 episodes. They are going linear and hitting ever state along their path, but I wanted to see more food, more americana, more of Alton!!

              I hope they do this again, this time traveling more south... :)


              1. re: Dommy

                Yes, but it's nice to see some of the states getting some love that don't normally, i.e. Kansas and Missouri!! Uh... where's Kansas?! ;-)

                1. re: Katie Nell

                  Katie! Alton understood(maybe it's riding on a motorcycle on 2 lane blacktop instead of sealed in car on I 70) that he'd entered the West. This ain't no Ohio.

                2. re: Dommy

                  Someone posted on another thread that the reason it's only four episodes is that AB fell off and broke something.

                  1. re: yayadave

                    Yes - I believe he hit some gravel and he dumped his gorgeous BMW and broke his collarbone. They are showing the fall on the last episode. But I don't think that's why it's only 4 episodes.

                    P.S. I mostly watch because it is AB and he his riding a BMW
                    BMW rider

              2. Katie, You're sooooo right! While there is the occasional show about Memphis or Kansas City, most of America is ignored by the media. Alton Brown is to be commended for featuring America's heartland.

                1. Simply brilliant. Alton Brown makes this program work on so many levels that it’s almost mind expanding. Watching him roll along the American highways, taking the viewer on a well researched journey of our road food culture is truly enjoyable and thought provoking. This is by far the Food Network’s best programming whether they \ admit it or not. Interesting, informative, unpredictable and most certainly outside the mundane Food TV box. The only thing missing is the promise of future episodes.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Truchaos

                    It was so good, I thought I was watching the Travel Channel. It's No Reservations except done in America.
                    Fantastic show.
                    Give me an RV and time and I'd do the whole trip myself. Wife and hound with me of course.


                  2. which episode had alton in the motor home making those great cracks about emeril's "essence"? omg that was HYSTERICAL!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: bloo

                      It was the fourth one, where he was making hash browns.

                      1. re: bloo

                        I dunno, I found that whole thing kinda trite, a little 'too honest'. It made him look kinda bad, like that Holiday special when he shoved a plate full of food at Giada and said "you need this" :p


                        1. re: Dommy

                          He said that to Giada?!!! Hysterical..I'm sorry I missed that! Does she swallow?
                          ...but it was exactly those unscripted moments that made me howl and respect the mans naturalness and sense of humor...what insight..he's a terrific teacher..!

                      2. What really stands out most to me was after he ate the brain sandwich, he was on his bike expounding. He said he didn't really like the brain sandwich but that may be because it was a very different flavor to him. However, people in that area who grew up with that flavor like it, and because outsiders don't, it becomes THEIR food and a connection to their past.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Hapa Dude

                          I agree, that was a great little anthropological theory and it was very powerful.