Tigers, Truckstops and Taco Salads

Looking for an interesting place to eat? Did you know that there is a truckstop in the Artic Circle? Did you know that there is a truckstop in Louisiana that actually houses six tigers?

Readers can find out about unusual truckstops like these and get recipes for dishes from some of America’s most popular truckstops in a new book titled The All-American Truck Stop Cookbook.

Written by Ken Beck, Jim Clark and Les Kerr, the book is a collection of recipes from American truckstops from Coldfoot, Alaska, to the Florida Keys.

Beck said that the stories and the photographs about the trucking industry as a whole make the collection more than just a cookbook but also a sort of history book.

“We tried to make our book two books in one,” says Beck, an editor and entertainment writer for The Tennessean in Nashville, Tenn. He and Clark have written a number of comical cookbooks centered on themes such as popular television sitcoms like “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gilligan’s Island.” Kerr is a songwriter, blues musician and freelance journalist who writes frequently about the trucking industry for Tennessee Trucking News and other publications.

The All-American Truck Stop Cookbook gives a brief history of truckstops and how they have evolved throughout the years. “There’s a lot of nostalgia about truckstops,” Beck says, adding that many people associate truckstops with the “good old days.” He also feels that there is a sense of family between those who work in the truckstop restaurants and the truckers who eat there often. “You are never going to find that in a fast-food restaurant or a modern restaurant,” Beck says. “With a lot of truckstops it’s really like stepping back in time.”

The All-American Truck Stop Cookbook features truckstop recipes for all types of food including soups, chili, salads and breads. The book also has recipes for breakfast dishes. Recipes for main dishes range from treats like steak, chicken and seafood to spicy dishes like enchiladas, jambalaya and gumbo. The book also includes recipes for an assortment of cakes, pies, cobblers and other desserts.

The recipes were chosen from truckstops that the authors selected based on information from truckers, dispatchers and Internet research.

Some truckstops were picked because they were so unusual. The Coldfoot Truck Stop is 60 miles into the Artic Circle and is the northernmost truckstop in the world. Coldfoot also has a café, a hotel, a tire shop and a post office. The residential population (not including seasonal workers) is eight.

The Tiger Truckstop in Gross Tete, La., can boast that it has six Siberian tigers living at its location. The restaurant was named after the mascot of the athletic teams of Louisiana State University, which is located in nearby Baton Rouge. The stop has had tigers since the 1980s and has become a tourist attraction.

The All-American Truck Stop Cookbook also includes pieces on movies and television shows that featured truck drivers, big rigs and truckstop diners, hits such as “Alice,” “B.J. and Bear,” “18 Wheels of Justice” and the Smokey and the Bandit movies. The book includes trivia about the trucking industry, a list of trucker terminology and information on ministries for truckers, like Truck Stop Ministries Inc. and Transport for Christ.

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