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On Your Table Blog

February 22, 2023

Gas station hot box

Gas station hot box

by Kelli Bowen

I spent some time in Louisiana last week. We found ourselves on a paddle boat dinner cruise the first night. There were tables for six in the dining room and there were three of us. We found a table that had three inhabitants and asked to join. Then I did what I do - made new friends.

The other folks hailed from Louisiana and to find common ground, we stuck to a pretty interesting, safe, and loved subject: food.

food, the universal language

We were talking about dishes from here and there. We were being served gumbo. I wasn’t a fan, then my new friend, who I shall refer to as Miss Louisiana, leaned over and said “this isn’t very good.” I felt relieved that my discerning palette was correct and not just my inner-Midwest sneaking out. We laughed at the answer of “where can we get the best gumbo?” The answer - “my grandma’s house”.

As we chatted, we asked “Do you eat crawfish pies?” the Louisianans smiled and said “every day.” What?!?

Then the Mr. Louisiana smiled and said “we stop and get them for breakfast in the morning at the gas station.” He looked at me like I’d lost my mind. It’s their go-to grab-n-go breakfast. Then he looked perplexed and asked “What do y’all have in your hot boxes at the gas station?”

In that moment we realized: not everyone has the same food in their gas station To-Gos! The roller dogs, English muffin sandwiches and breakfast burritos may just be a Midwest thing?!?!?

My mind…BLOWN.

Then we started going through other dishes. Louisiana dessert? Bread pudding. What’s a North Dakota dessert? Kuchen. “What the heck is kuchen?” “What the heck is crawfish pie???”

We chatted about other hot topics like: where to get the best beignets and weather patterns. It was a cold day there: mid-40s. I explained we were 70 degrees colder a couple weeks ago: -28. Now their minds were blown.

I took their suggestion about the beignets and a few days later as I traveled home, I had a breakfast po’ boy. I never found crawfish pies; to be fair, I didn’t go into a gas station.

Louisiana breakfast po' boy

So if you ever find yourself in a new area and want to make friends for life, just ask what they have in their gas station hot box: you may open up a whole new world.

Kelli Bowen Kelli makes her home in Cass County with her husband, two daughters (10 and 7) and two dogs. She works for a regional seed company by day and tries to be an alright mom, wife, friend and writer by night.

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