It’s impossible to pinch a taco or bite down on a burger these days without bumping into a camera-wielding gastrogeek. All across the world, fancy restaurants glow with the flash of DSLRs as the Yelp generation attempts to catalog and broadcast every last calorie that passes its lips. Chefs mash their teeth and hungry friends wait, exasperated, as their buddy with the iPhone art directs a dish right back to room temperature.
I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ve never been much for scenery shooting or portraiture, but it’s been years since I’ve eaten something interesting that I didn’t first photograph. When I returned from a recent trip to Asia and tried to put together a little slideshow for family and friends, I realized I only had a few pictures of people or places I crossed along the way. What I did have was a 5GB library detailing every last bite from the Far East: noodles of every size and shape submerged in murky broths, street skewers made of animals untold bathed in smoke and char, Tweezer-constructed towers of wild leaves and exotic proteins.
Much has been made of the food photography phenomenon and its impact on the dining scene, but we’ll save that debate for another date. (In the meantime, I will say this: turn off your damn flash! No decent amateur food photo has ever emerged from the harsh glare of a flash bulb. Everyone—fellow diners, chefs, your Twitter followers—will thank you.) Today, we are joining the masses of dish-documenting food obsessives and announcing the beginning of Roads & Kingdoms’ Instagram account.
We hope the R&K Instagram feed will be a place to come to learn how to eat better.
This account will be primarily dedicated to the dark and lusty charms of foodporn—a special place to go to get the blood flowing. Expect a globe-spanning selection of dishes both high brow and low, haute and humble, from the starched linens of the world’s most innovative restaurants to the low-riding plastic stools of a sweaty Asian street corner. There will be the occasional non-food item on display—a sunset, say, or animals that look like global leaders—but by and large R&K’s Instagram will be a pixelated celebration of the edible world. As much as we love to arouse appetites, in our most lucid moments, we hope the R&K Instagram feed will be a place to come to learn how to eat better.
To bring all of this to life, we’ve linked up with the good folks at Men’s Health (and their excellent food channel Guy Gourmet), whose prowess in the culinary world was rewarded with not one but two James Beard awards this year. What follows is the first round of dispatches from our new collaboration, a series of photos of our favorite road foods filled with little tips and tidbits to help make the eating experience more memorable. Just a taste of things to come.
THE TROUGH, PECAN LODGE, DALLAS, TX
In 2010, Justin Fourton gave up a consulting gig at Accenture to cook brisket. Now, he helms one of America’s greatest temples of smoked meat. Lines can exceed two hours and the meat runs out early, but there’s a way around the masses: Order 5 pounds or more and move to the front of the line. The Trough, a glorious spread of pork shoulder, pork ribs, smoked sausage, brisket and a stunning two-pound beef rib, is like a pure-protein EZ Pass. The brisket, a finicky, fickle cut of meat and thus the true sign of a pitmaster’s skill, is a work of art: a deep, dark caramelized crust gives way to 18 hours of smoke and love.
Dallas Farmers Market
1010 S Pearl Expy
Dallas, TX 75201
MEXICAN FEAST, LOS AGAVES, SANTA BARBARA, CA
La Super Rica may be the busiest Mexican joint in America, hoards drawn by the promise of eating at one of Julia Child’s favorite restaurants. Truth is, Los Agaves, an unassuming place a few doors down, does superior food in a chaos-free setting. Order the mole negro, a jet-black blanket of chocolate and chilies ladled over handmade corn tortillas stuffed with braised chicken. Or the rajas, a heaping pile of roasted poblanos, here studded with crispy bits of carnitas—always a solid diversion from the standard steak and chicken tacos. With all the time you just saved by skipping the Super Rica line, knock back an extra Bohemia, the best of Mexico’s many admirable beers.
600 N Milpas St
Santa Barbara, CA 93190
Even East Coasters know by now about In-N-Out’s not-so-secret menu—in particular, the legendary Animal-style option, which adds grilled onions, extra special sauce and pickles to any burger. But there’s a secret-secret menu that only In-N-Out junkies know about, consisting of a few dozen ways to accessorize your burgers, fries and milkshakes. Want an extra punch on your burger? Order it “mustard grilled”. Want a Paelo experience? Just say “Flying Dutchman”. The ultimate order, by our estimation? Double-Double Animal-Style, medium rare, with whole grilled onion, chopped chilies and well-done (i.e. extra crispy) fries.
FRIED CHICKEN, HUSK RESTAURANT, CHARLESTON AND NASHVILLE
This golden bird is the brainchild of diabolical genius Sean Brock, a guy uniquely capable of making food that would please both Michelin inspectors and your skillet-packing grandmama. This chicken is first soaked in sweet tea, then bathed in buttermilk, then dredged in soft biscuit flour and crunchy cornmeal. The frying takes place in a cast-iron skillet filled with a heart-thumping convergence of four fats: lard, rendered chicken fat, melted Benton’s bacon fat, and rendered country ham scraps. At the last minute, Brock floats in an island of butter, which melts into the mix and gives this chicken a brilliant sheen. You won’t find this chicken on the printed menu at Husk, but if you ask nicely, they’ll bring you a basket.
74-76 Queen St
Charleston, SC 29401
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