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A seasoned comedian's love letter to America's food curiosities—the regional cuisines, the culinary oddities, the weird and the wonderful "Mark DeCarlo is a [modern-day] Groucho Marx." —PEOPLE Whether it be fish ice cream, kudzu tempura, or even sausage, Mark DeCarlo always wonders, "Who the hell thought to eat this stuff the first time?" We find out in this hilarious celebration of the genesis of America's most creative and idiosyncratic food traditions, and the people who keep these food traditions alive. Join the master comedian on his journey across the United States to visit these people and their foods in their natural habitats—places like the French Quarter of New Orleans, lush Maui resorts, and the Annual Road Kill Cook-off Festival in West Virginia. From the obvious and beloved (Buffalo wings, Boston clam chowder, hush puppies, and strawberry shortcake) to the bizarre and, well, beloved by some (Rocky Mountain oysters, fried rattlesnake, scrapple, and deep fried Twinkies), DeCarlo takes readers on a rollicking tour of the people and places behind America's greatest food inventions. Each chapter features the story behind a particular food (moosehead soup, anyone?) and the people who love it. Signature recipes, snapshot photos from the road, along with "Road Rules" on how to discover the real America all spice up the travelogue. It's a love letter to America's culinary curiosities, providing armchair travelers with a tour of the wackiest and kitschiest food festivals, delicacies, and people this country has to offer. FROM THE AUTHOR'S FOREWORDConsider the oyster. Unopened, dirty, and habitually covered with muddy, green crap. If you didn't know that it was hollow and contained a tasty glob of salty protein, would you ever guess that this rock was edible? Well . . . somebody did. Deep in the recesses of time, some caveman or beach-dwelling ape not only discovered that oysters aren't rocks . . . but that they're tasty—as long as you've got Tabasco and a date for the night. But for every 'oyster,' success story, there are thousands of casualties that will forever remain unknown. History is written by the survivors. A Fork on the Road celebrates those survivors and their progeny: It's about the kinds of people who will spend 30% of their yearly salary building a BBQ Trailer with a homemade logo painted in flames on the side just to win a $50 contest 500 miles from home. It's about the third generation pie maker who is as dull as a hammer until the conversation comes around to "cracker" versus "pastry" shells. It's about the millions of people around the country who call themselves 'foodies'—as if the rest of us exist simply on air and water. . . .
Foreword: Cooking People vi
Chapter 1 Rules of the Road 1
Chapter 2 Coast to Coast 19
Chapter 3 The Avocado's Name is Kevin 35
Chapter 4 Fruitcake Monks 54
Chapter 5 Wings of Addiction 70
Chapter 6 It's a Man's World 82
Chapter 7 Awful Tasty 103
Chapter 8 The Idea of Pickles 119
Chapter 9 Jazz Fest 133
Chapter 10 Bachelor Party BOOFTAR 159
Chapter 11 Meat Heads 176
Chapter 12 Tell 'Em I Sent Ya 194
Chapter 13 TDW 221
Chapter 14 Heading Home 239
About the Author 278
We met Mark DeCarlo on a typically sultry Miami day back in 2005. DeCarlo was in Miami to tape two segments for his Travel Channel series, "Taste of America." The show, which left the air in 2008 after four hilarity-filled seasons, took viewers on a comically culinary tour of the United States. Each episode featured a different city and highlighted several local foods.
DeCarlo has had an interesting career, from game show contestant to game show host; from stand-up comedian to roles on various TV series, including Seinfeld, Evening at the Improv, Matlock, The Ben Stiller Show, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He is also the voice of "Hugh Neutron" on the cartoon series "Jimmy Neutron" as well as several other animated characters. Who can forget some of his memorable big screen appearances, notably the famous "Chuck Steak?"
DeCarlo's new book, "A Fork on the Road: 400 Cities/One Stomach" is half cookbook, half travelogue. DeCarlo recounts numerous anecdotes -- all humor filled -- of his days on the road with "Taste of America," a journey that covered some 400 cities. It's true there are plenty of yuks here, but also several tender moments. The final chapter highlights DeCarlo's Miami visit and touches on Raúl Musibay's personal story, a story shared by thousands of Cuban immigrants and typifying what the author says is truly great about America.
A Fork on the Road is a great read for the armchair traveler and those who appreciate the offbeat and unusual attractions one can only find beneath the drab sameness of Corporate Food America. The author's style combines elements of both Groucho Marx and Mark Twain and the book is eminently readable. The included recipes are a nice bonus. We recommend this book for anyone who enjoys food and fun!
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Posted September 29, 2010
If you love to travel throughout America, if you love food, if you're Italian...or not Italian, if you love festivals and places to visit off the beaten path, this is the book for you!! Mark DeCarlo's "Taste of America" series on the Travel Channel was something my husband and I looked forward to each week. We always knew Mark would take us to a place we had probably never been before, and we knew that we would be entertained by this comedic genius who was so at ease in interviewing his guests. Mark's hilarious antics, along with his sometimes sardonic humor were always sure to get us laughing out loud by the end of the show!! This is why this book should be read by anyone who loves to be entertained. Mark has transferred the quick wit and charm he used in his series to the writing of this wonderful book. I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud so much while reading a book. I've gotten my share of strange looks while waiting in the doctor's office and letting out a guffaw that woke up the whole room!! I just held up the book and said, "you've got to read this book!!" (I hope that helped sell at least a dozen more copies!!) I came to know and love the city of Chicago in 1972. I've been back there many times since, but Mark is from Chicago. His stories and reminiscing about family and Chicago will make anyone who loves that city so proud. The tips on how to find the best restaurants, and reviews of the places he likes the best, will prove to be so handy while traveling to some of the great places that Mark writes about in his book. Only one "hankie" alert needs to be mentioned. This is for those of us who are dog lovers and softies at heart. Mark's beloved dog, Groucho, died two weeks before he went on the road for "Taste of America." You definitely need a hankie when he talks about Groucho. But, if there's one book you're going to read during these hard times this is definitely the one!! It's also a sure winner to give during the upcoming holiday season. Everyone could use a little guidance on cities to visit, and everyone can certainly use as many laughs as they can get!! Mark, your writing is fantastic!! Thank you!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.