While on the road, it’s always important to keep your eyes peeled and nose on the sniff for goodness en route. To me, a trip should not just involve getting from point A to point B, but be a big part of the journey to discovery. A good explorer makes no judgement, and gives everything a chance and a try because sometimes the tackiest of tacky can give much enjoyment and delight. On my French trip so far, I’ve found some classic tasty goodies at truck stops, service stations, parks, and on the side of the road. Not only are these snack stops very necessary to break up my long highway stretches, but they are full of surprises. I have been super impressed with the standard of food available at even the simplest of petrol stations in the middle of nowhere. Here, it’s just standard to sell fresh sandwiches, local fruit, pastries, salads, and other delicious things.
With most of my petrol station eating experiences being in Australia, I am used to deciding between beef jerkey and some beer nuts or a meat pie (that has probably been sitting in its warming cabinet for weeks) and a chocolate milk… Which, mind you, does the trick and I actually quite like the ‘wrongness’ that the mystery meat in these pies represent to me. It’s a kitschy and satisfying road snack, that has probably set my roadside snack standard way too low for my own good. So, my little food-nerd mind gets a little too excited when I stumble across a cheap, delectable highway lunch on the road here in France. This happens often. I just had an excellent quiche and raspberry tart at a Paul bakery that sat pretty in a service station, and what a difference this experience had on my mood and energy level. I guess those ‘good endorphins’ people always talk about were released then and there from this well-baked goodness. I’m definitely all for a good standard of food that is fresh and tries to be as real as possible.
Another genius kind of roadside food, is a truck that calls itself the ‘Friterie’. Ok, it’s a portable fry shop, but apart from the freshly fried crispy goodies you can get your mits on, they usually sell crepes, sandwiches, burgers, and shakes. Anyways, when you find a good friterie, you will also find yourself in a moment of happiness before packing up to continue your journey.
Last but not least, stoping to buy locally grown produce on the side of the road is something to take advantage of. Don’t waste your money on useless souvenirs like novelty mugs and eiffel tower snow globes (though I’m guilty of buying a snow-globe or two). Your souvenirs will be the memory of the wonderful tastes and smells of your journey. In this case it’s super sweet tomatoes, mirabelles, rustic style baguette, some locally made wine (because I’m in Bordeaux), a bunch of salad radishes, and some butter. My co-pilot taught me the greatest way on Earth to eating radishes, the French way. Simply grab a piece of fresh baguette, spread on some salted butter, and put some radishes on top. It changed my sceptical little brain in one bite. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. I had this as a little pre-cursor to a post seven hour drive celebration dinner with some rotisserie chicken, potatoes, and paella that was also purchased sur le bord de la route.