Road Food Adventures
August 20, 2015 • Features & News

Lobster rolls. Fried clams. Oysters. Hamburgers. Thin crust pizza. Creamery ice cream.


The foods listed above are noted Connecticut specialties and the smaller byways in the state are dotted with dozens of places that satisfy the craving for each and everyone one of these delights. That doesn’t even begin to touch on all of the other places that cater to our inner road foodie—the diners, the mom and pop shops, the roadside fruit and veg stands, the pick-your-own farms, and the seasonal joints. Sometimes these places also provide our foodie fix, but sometimes they are just destinations in their own right. We all have our favorite local haunt where we get the best (pick your item) .

“What’s this got to do with agriculture?” Well, the seafood listed is caught or farmed in Long Island Sound, so there’s a little aquaculture going on there. Creamery ice cream is sourced locally from Connecticut cows. Some argue, though somewhat controversially, that thin-crust pizza and hamburgers originated in Connecticut – which doesn’t have much to do with agriculture, but both are delish and it’s interesting to know!

But who doesn’t love food? And the ingredients have to come from somewhere. In recent years the people of Connecticut have become a bit obsessed with farm dinners. Seems like from June on, farm dinners crop up (get it?) all over the state and farm dinners have a LOT to do with agriculture since they are often held on site (at the farm) and use very fresh local ingredients.

Who or what started this mania for documenting regional foods? Well, Connecticut authors Jane and Michael Stern started writing about roadfood way before the thought of Road+Food became popularized on the Food Network. The first edition of their book Roadfood was published in 1978 and the latest revised edition was published in 2014. That doesn’t necessarily make them the “first”, but they were early proponents of knowing where our food comes from. The Sterns are not storytellers—they are (road)food critics. But their definition of roadfood is as follows (from the website):

  • Roadfood means great regional meals along highways, in small towns and in city neighborhoods.
  • It is non-franchised, sleeves-up food made by cooks, bakers, pitmasters, and sandwich-makers who are America’s culinary folk artists.
  • Roadfood is almost always informal and inexpensive; and the best Roadfood restaurants are colorful places enjoyed by locals (and savvy travelers) for their character as well as their menu.

The Sterns are still documenting and preserving local foodways, whether in Connecticut, Florida or anywhere in-between, and we owe them a debt for the work they’ve done and continue to do.

So, get out there and enjoy Connecticut’s bounty before the seasonal places close down, the farm dinners cease, and the roadside stands shut down for the fall.

Other Resources:

Seasonal and small restaurants: We didn’t want to be responsible for leaving anyone out so visit the Sterns’ website to seek out specific seasonal and small, hometown restaurants.

Lobsters have their Own Day:  September 25, 2015

Sustainable Table

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