Iâ€™m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in York, Pennsylvania.
Greetings from York, Pennsylvania
N 40Â° 04.743â€™ W 076Â° 46.012â€™ Elev. 407 ft.
I have no use for Pennsylvania. While it might conceivably be considered beautiful in a small vehicle, in a heavily laden land yacht itâ€™s the very definition of â€œA Bitch!â€ Too many hills, too little parking, generally a royal pain in the ass. Nothing is easy in a land yacht in Pennsylvania.
I used to loathe Texas … until I came to Pennsylvania. I now consider Texas a veritable paradise. But while the food in Pennsylvania can be good occasionally, and the people are mostly friendly, it doesnâ€™t make up for the many inconveniences someone â€” Me! â€” suffers here. And the radio reception sucks, too.
Nevertheless, I found the Interstate 83 Diner and Coffee Shop through pure providence, if you consider a roadside billboard a sign of pure providence. It had an icon of a truck on it, which can be a good omen if youâ€™re sailing in Pennsyl-freakinâ€™-vania. The truck icon screamed at the SS Me Hungry crew: â€œItâ€™s land-yacht friendly! Stop! Food! Stop!â€
It turned out it was true. The I-83 Diner has enough room for about 30 or so yachts. But to park there you have to spend at least $10 in the restaurant, then they give you a parking permit to hang in your window (tape-provided) thatâ€™s good for ten hours. They claim to be hard-assed about the parking: Youâ€™ll be towed! Iâ€™m guessing itâ€™s mostly bluster, but you never know and those big wreckers cost big bucks.
Iâ€™ve been here twice. My first visit was a bit more straight-ahead than this one. But Iâ€™m getting ahead of myself.
On my most recent stop one of the specials was Pork & Sauerkraut with Mashed Potatoes for $8.59. Hmm, I thought, thatâ€™s something Iâ€™ve never seen. So I ordered it. I guessed it would be something like a pork steak and sauerkraut fixed lord-knows-how. My waiter said it was good and that â€œit comes out real quick.â€ (I presumed he was talking about speed of the order coming out of the kitchen and not something, ahem, a bit more unpleasant.)
While I was waiting for the Pork & Sauerkraut to â€œcome out real quickâ€ I had a bowl of Bean & Ham soup. While it seemed a little pricey ($3.59/bowl) I couldnâ€™t resist. It was really, really, really good. Obviously homemade, the soup wasnâ€™t overcooked to the point where the beans deteriorated. Indeed, the broth was still thin. While I wish it wouldâ€™ve had a few more white beans in it, it had a lot of nice chunks of ham, a zillion carrots and a great tasting broth.
Then the Pork and Sauerkraut came. The mashed potatoes and gravy were great. But this Pork and Sauerkraut thing was a little beyond me even though I like both pork and sauerkraut.
The quality of the sauerkraut was exemplary. Not limp or overly briny like commercial sauerkraut. But … WTF is this supposed to be? Itâ€™s a mound of perfectly good sauerkraut with bits of boiled(?), tasteless pork!
I mean, câ€™mon. The sauerkraut belongs on a Polish dog, preferably with spicy mustard. The pork is begging to be in some creamed concoction to be generously ladled over a mountainous scoop of mashed potatoes thatâ€™s been gingerly situated in the center of a slice of white WonderÂ®/BimboÂ® bread. You know, something Minnesotans would find â€œjust too darn spicy, donâ€™cha know.â€
Needless to say the Pork and Sauerkraut was not a combination that worked for me at all. And though I suspected Iâ€™d be out the money for this culinary disaster, I figured: â€œScrew it! Iâ€™m in Pennsyl-freakinâ€™-vania and Iâ€™m hungry!â€ So I had the waiter take it away. I then ordered the Stuffed Cabbage, which Iâ€™d had on my first visit.
The Stuffed Cabbage ($9.99) here is quite good. The stuffing is a little different from what Iâ€™m used to; it has no rice in it. Itâ€™s just spiced ground beef (I think), with bits of onion and bell pepper. The sauce, however, is the star. Itâ€™s kind of a cross between a tomato-cream sauce and a classic Kosher cabbage-roll sauce, with the raisin-y sweetness of a Kosher-style sauce. Itâ€™s homey, soothing, and delicious.
I had a serious bitch, though: The Stuffed Cabbage, as well as all of the other items on the inserted â€œwhiteâ€ menu (see pic), comes with two sides. This time I got a green salad (meh) and beets.
The last time I was here the beets were served warm. In fact, they were round little miniature* (smaller-than-golf-ball-sized) pickled beets. And they were served warm, which made them awesome. This time they seemed to be straight out of a can, with very little spicing and were served cold! Waaaaaaaah!!!
(*Speaking of miniatures: Baby carrots. I love â€˜em! Why? Because they are not â€œBabyâ€ carrots. Break one in half and look at its cross-section. Then take a regular, full-grown carrot, break it in half and look at its cross-section. You will see little difference. So-called Baby Carrots are merely mature carrots that have been lovingly machine-chopped to uniform lengths and mechanically sculpted; lathed, if you will. If youâ€™ve ever had the â€œpleasureâ€ of eating a baby carrot, you were probably disappointed. They have no taste. Indeed, itâ€™s like eating an immature, flavorless vegetable. Imagine that!
By the way, Iâ€™m convinced, without any proof whatsoever â€” absolutely no research was done â€” that Baby Carrots are the brainchild of Bolthouse Farms of Bakersfield, California, which is possibly the largest processor of carrots on the planet.)
Still, the Cabbage Rolls were really good. And I wasnâ€™t charged for the train-wreck of Pork and Sauerkraut.
And so we roll.
Interstate 83 Diner and Coffee Shop (I-83 Exit 28), 5220 Susquehanna Road, York, Pennsylvania
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.