When you are on a road trip, chain restaurants are everywhere. Rest stops and highway exits abound with familiar logos that promise cheap food for the RVer on the go. While these spots might be convenient, you may be missing the diverse cuisine that makes our country so unique.
Here are three reasons why you should forgo the fast food on your next RV trip and make your meals part of the adventure.
Experience local culture
Go to any city or town in the country and ask a local what they are most proud of about their region. Chances are they will say the food. Cuisine remains one of the defining aspects of regional identity, and locals will work hard to convince you their dishes are better than anyone elses. Take them up on the challenge. Your stomach will thank you.
Before you head out on your trip, research the delicacies of the areas you’ll be visiting. Heading to New England? Make sure fried seafood is on your list. Maybe you’re traveling to North Carolina? Then, barbeque is a must. When you arrive at your destination, ask locals what their favorite places are. Sometimes, you’ll find the best meals are hidden off the beaten path.
Engage with local history
In a melting pot like America, every dish is packed with history. Pumpkin pies echo back to the earliest meetings between Native Americans and the English, while Cajun cuisine tells the story of French settlements in Louisiana. Southwestern food traces its roots to the Spanish conquistadors and continues to evolve to this day. Taste the country’s long tradition of immigration from around the world by indulging in raviolis, pierogis, pho, samosas and more.
You can even explore the history of American industry through food. Texas beef evokes the spirit of cowboys on the range and lobster rolls will remind you of hard days at sea off the Atlantic coast. Sink your teeth into a block of cheddar cheese to savor the results of the Midwestern dairy empires. By eating locally, you'll connect directly with the people who built a region's character over generations.
Expand your horizons
While cooking your meals on the road is a great way to save money, it’s easy to find yourself stuck rotating through a few standard dishes during the trip. Even if you decide to eat out, national chains often offer the same handful of options like hamburgers, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks and Buffalo wings. While these foods are all delicious, they can become stale if you eat them too frequently.
When you go on an RV adventure, try to use it as an opportunity to discover new foods along the way. Instead of plain old pasta, try some Cincinnati Chili with meat and cheese piled high on a bed of spaghetti. Leave the cereal its box and wake up to Southern-style biscuits and honey. Have a bison burger, instead of beef, or fried catfish, instead of fish and chips. The options are as varied as the places you’ll visit.
Wherever you are traveling, try to plan at least a few nights on your trip to discover the flavors, dishes and delights of local cuisine.
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