Roadfood: Authentic, delicious American cuisine

Jim Brasher
Weekend Edition

Roadfood is the lifelong passion of authors Jane and Michael Stern. They have spent the last thirty years traveling around the United States searching for what they describe as "great regional meals along highways, in small towns and in city neighborhoods; non-franchised, sleeves-up food made by cooks, bakers, pitmasters, and sandwich-makers who are America's culinary folk artists."

The result? More than forty books, a website and even an annual Roadfood festival in New Orleans. Restaurant owners from all over the country descend on the French Quarter to share their specialties with the general public. I just had to check it out, and you can check out my video of festival here).

But in order to truly experience the joy of Roadfood, I had to go to the source.

"If you go into a town cafe," says Michael Stern, "sit at the counter along other towns people, get into a chitchat with the waitress, go back to the cook, you're gonna be part of that community in a way you couldn't anyway else."

There are many amazing restaurants in Louisiana which qualify as Roadfood, but on the advice of Michael Stern, I drove to Breaux Bridge, Lousiana to visit Cafe Des Amis.

He offered me a final tip: "See what other people are eating, don't even bother with the menu."

Two hours west of New Orleans, Breaux Bridge is best known to tourists as the crawfish capital of the world. (The annual Crawfish Festival is coming up soon!).  This small town of less than 8,000 people is also home to Cafe Des Amis, which began as coffee shop eighteen years ago. Then the owners began selling catfish, and the cafe evolved into a world class eating experience.

Executive Chef Mark Roberthon began working at Cafe Des Amis when he was fifteen, washing dishes. Now he's in charge of making dishes, like oreilles de cochon (pig's ear). This pastry is made up of beignet dough wrapped around boudin pork sausage filling, fried up and covered in powdered sugar.

Michael Stern says, "It's an unbelievable sweet tangy hot dish like nowhere else in this country."

I hope you enjoy the above video as much I enjoyed my time at Cafe Des Amis.