Eating on the Road…Road Trip Food

Nothing more clearly defines a culture than food: kinds of food, dining hours, eating habits, etc.  This is never more obvious here than in warm weather.  The French are a very orderly people.  They are not given to change easily and are somewhat leery of trying new things.  (I brought Boston Baked Beans to a village picnic, once, thinking they might like a taste of traditional American picnic fare…some of the younger crowd very gingerly took a tiny spoonful…)  They also like things to be done properly.  In schools, all over France, at 12:30 the children sit down to a proper, 3 course lunch.  No grabbing food out of a vending machine for them!  So, it is only natural that at 1:00, along the highways and byways of France, you will find the French drivers pulled off to the side of the road.  Trunk opens, table and chairs come out and are setup roadside, followed by the tablecloth, napkins, plates and cutlery.  The wine is opened and poured while maman sets the food out.  And we are not looking at simple sandwiches!  Maman has probably been up since dawn getting everything ready.  There will be country pate and bread, followed by salads and heartier fare and finished with a fresh tart of pears or apples.  Coffee from a thermos rounds out the meal.  Everyone sits and enjoys a leisurely lunch…amid the fumes of passing traffic.  An hour later, after a proper rest to let things digest, it is all packed up and the journey continues. 
In Spain there is a somewhat different approach, although they take their food equally seriously.  After at least two stops for 'a coffee' plus one longer one for second breakfast (a bocadillo – sandwich, and a glass or two of wine) they will search for a roadside restaurant, of which there are many.  They'll pull into to a likely spot around 2:00 and have a proper lunch: lots of food, wine and conversation.  (I read once that, while Spaniards will drink all day long you will never see one drunk!).  Around 3:30 or 4:00 they are back on the road.  If it wouldn't be for the fact that they drive very, very fast they would never get anywhere!  (And what is it with their avoidance of bathrooms (loos)?  You will see entire families parked within spitting distance of a service station, complete with bathrooms,  the men calmly pissing along side the road, chatting and watching the traffic while mama and the girls walk up into the hillside.) 
Back to the food:  What/how do we eat on road trips?  In true American fashion we eat junk food while driving.  There is nothing like a can of Pringles and a Coca Cola Light, followed by a triple chocolate fudge 'Magnum Intense' ice cream bar.  Food Pyramid by damned!

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