Written by adam on Aug 21, 2006
Feasting on Asphalt
This might be one of the most biased reviews I've ever written, because I don't think that Alton Brown can do anything wrong. I love his show Good Eats, and have for years. I think that he brings energy and pizazz to an otherwise rather bland Iron Chef America, and his random appearances on the Food Network always leave me wanting more. But his latest endeavor, Feasting on Asphalt, gives me a sense of satisfaction combined with a hole in my gut that I think could have been filled with more.
Officially, Feasting on Asphalt is over. It was a 4 episode mini-series that ended last Saturday night. However, the Food Network is sure to replay it over and over again this year, as is the case with most cable networks.
Feasting is a mini-series created by Brown, who hops aboard his motorcycle with the rest of his crew to tour the highways and byways that "stitch this crazy country together." Along the way, he visits and partakes of anything he deems "road food," that is, any food make specifically and eaten by travellers. Brown and his crew stay off the interstates and keep course on the windy, country roads and the historic Route 66 for much of the journey. Along the way, he and his crew stop at diners, rest stops, inns, tea rooms, trailer parks, and even the museum dedicated to Duncan Hines. Mix in a little bit of historic nostalgia, and you have a genuine, bona-fide Alton Brown program.
As always, Alton Brown never fails to throw in a bit of education.
The first two episodes were amazing. The caravan goes through Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, and South and North Carolina visiting just about every soul food, bbq joint, and greasy spoon along the way. Being from that part of the country, Brown has a natural affinity for certain diners and slices of pie.
As the tour began to wind its way through the middle of the country, the caravan seemed to stop at diners and road food places less and less, until eventually they were visiting a family travelling in an RV. Brown and his crew stopped to help them make hash browns, and they also stopped to have a meal with a Navajo family. Not exactly road food.
By the time the fourth and final episode came around, they group made its way to California where they taped Alton riding around with a police officer in L.A., sampling all the local fast food joints and empanada parlours. After nearly an hour of boredom, there was one moment that had me on my feet and it went something like this.
Alton explains that the police have this special gun that they use in crowds and riot control. It's a sort of paintball gun that shoots these little red balls called "pepper balls." I knew what they were instantly, and I had a bad feeling where it was headed. Brown continued to explain about the pepper balls, and he removed one from the chamber and threw it on the ground. He then stomped on it, crushing it to a fine powder.
Alton bent over and said, "These pepper balls are made of ...," and he reached his hand down.
"CAPSAICIN! IT'S PURE CAPSAICIN! DON'T TOUCH IT YOU IDIOT!" That was me yelling at the TV.
He touched it with his two fingers and brought them up.
I screamed again, "Don't do that! NO! Don't do it!"
He licked his fingers and inhaled slightly.
It only took an instant for the effect to hit him. His eyes rolled back into his head and he began coughing and sputtering. If you want a picture of what this might look like, click here to see me eating one pequin pepper. Alton then invited the rest of the crew to try it. And one total doofus decided to put some of the powder into the lining of his nose.
Well, overall the series was a smash. I really wish that the caravan had come further south into Texas. As big as my state is, quite a lot of it is metropolitan. Plus, it takes about 10 hours to drive across. But I can think of at least 20 road food places that could have been on the tour. This country is pretty big, though. I guess there could be a Feasting on Asphalt 2" sometime next year.
Incidentally, I did get to see Alton lay the bike down in the gravel in Nevada, breaking his collar bone. The incident was made out to be a big deal in the press, but the fall was kind of silly looking.
Responses to "Feasting on Asphalt" ...
Yeah Alton!! I love his work...I have only seen the first episode of Feasting but will look for the others....But who in their right mind would lick their fingers after smashing a Pepper Bullet ment for Riot Control..jeezzz Alton..haha
I honestly thought they were going to turn around and head back to Georgia and keep filming. I didn't have any frame of reference for how many days they had been on the road, and I certainly didn't think they were only doing 4 episodes!