Here's a list of terrific cookbooks and essays on American regional food. If you can't always eat at that fabulous roadhouse you found on the backroads somewhere, you can turn on some music, turn up the heat, and try to recreate it at home...
by Sheila Lukins (Workman Publishing, May 1997). One terrific mouthful of Americana: Blue Wally pancakes, buttermilk fried chicken, Shaker cranberry brisket.
by Lolis Eric Elie (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). A slick volume on the lusty subject of barbecue that puts forth a poetic exploration of the pit master's art, with evocative photos, recipes, and a listing of America's best BBQ joints.
Steak Lover's Cookbook
by William Rice (Workman Publishing, April 1997). What could be more American than a perfectly done T-bone?Mouthwatering recipes and a rundown of steak havens.
Serious Pig: An American Cook in Search of His Roots
by John Thorne with Matt Lewis Thorne (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The American food essay: baked, fried, and barbecued to perfection. Meditations on everything from crawfish étouffée to Maine potatoes.
Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern (HarperPerennial)This state-by-state guide, published in 1992, remains a bible for anyone with a passion for the vernacular. Look for the authors' new volume, Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A., due in June from Broadway Books.