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Review: "Feasting on Asphalt"
Saturday, July 29, 2006 | posted by Mike

I just wanted to wrap up the Week of One Thousand Alton Posts with a short review of the recently-aired debut of “Feasting on Asphalt.” The show was, as advertised, a road trip crossed with a culinary tour, with Brown and his travel buddies crisscrossing the American Southeast and sampling the roadside cuisine.

The locales and the food will be of interest to anyone who enjoys taking chances with a roadside restaurant, and for anyone who enjoys the artery-clogging food found there. Given particular time during the show was Southern and soul foods, and they’re obviously dishes that appeal to the show’s host.

The time spent in the kitchens of these restaurants is the most interesting part of the show. Brown and the chefs discuss cooking techniques and food, but they keep coming back to why these folks put the time and effort into a small, independently-owned restaurant. Every time, the answer is that they do it for the satisfaction they receive from feeding the people of their community, as well as the people who pass through on the highways.

Not all of the stops are a success, however. There’s an unfortunate incident with a pickled pig’s foot that Alton admits wasn’t “good eats.” Soon-to-be-Mrs. TVFF.com liked this part, particularly the fact that he didn’t try to tell us how delicious everything tastes, as is often the case on Food Network travel and location shows.

We’ve mentioned Alton Brown’s cinematography background (actually, he brings it up during the show, too), and the look of the show is certainly unique. It is shot using digital video which provides a look similar to film, and there are interesting camera placements and “photo montages” which take the show into commercials. Everything here works quite well.

Brown does a number of pieces speaking directly into the camera, describing the back-story of a particular locale with his usual, off-the-cuff delivery. It’s very similar to “Good Eats,” and seeing it in the real world rather than the semi-surreal environs of the Good Eats kitchen takes some adjustment.

“Feasting on Asphalt” is everything that “Good Eats” is not when it comes to the amount of production visible on the screen, and that’s a good thing. It feels like a real road trip, with real guys eating real food. And it should encourage you to remember: Not all great food is served in four-star restaurants.



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