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Road Sides

Road Sides
An Illustrated Companion to Dining and Driving in the American South

An illustrated A-to-Z companion for discovering the history, cuisine, and landmarks of a southern road trip.

October 2019
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192 pages | 6 x 8 | 121 color illus. |

An illustrated glovebox essential, Road Sides explores the fundamentals of a well-fed road trip through the American South, from A to Z. There are detours and destinations, accompanied by detailed histories and more than one hundred original illustrations that document how we get where we’re going and what to eat and do along the way.

Learn the backstory of food-shaped buildings, including the folks behind Hills of Snow, a giant snow cone stand in Smithfield, North Carolina, that resembles the icy treats it sells. Find out how kudzu was used to support a burgeoning highway system, and get to know Edith Edwards—the self-proclaimed Kudzu Queen—who turns the obnoxious vine into delicious teas and jellies. Discover the roots of kitschy roadside attractions, and have lunch with the state-employed mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida.

Road Sides is for everyone—the driver in search of supper or superlatives (the biggest, best, and even worst), the person who cannot resist a local plaque or snack and pulls over for every historical marker and road stand, and the kid who just wants to gawk at a peach-shaped water tower.

  • Introduction
  • A. Architecture
  • B. Billboards
  • C. Cars
  • D. Directions
  • E. Entertainment
  • F. Fixins
  • G. Gas
  • H. Hyperbole
  • I. Icons
  • J. Junque
  • K. Kudzu
  • L. Landmarks
  • M. Meat-and-Threes
  • N. Nackets
  • O. Open
  • P. Packaging
  • Q. Que
  • R. Roads
  • S. Stands
  • T. Tunes
  • U. Ubiquity
  • V. Vacancy
  • W. Windows
  • X. XXX
  • Y. Yonder
  • Z. Zealots
  • Acknowledgments
  • Sources
  • Index of Places

Emily Wallace
Durham, North Carolina

Born and raised in North Carolina, Wallace is the art director and deputy editor for the quarterly journal Southern Cultures and a freelance writer and illustrator. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Oxford American, Southern Living, and other publications.


“Before hitting the highway, tuck this amusing guide into the glove department to learn about the best and worst dining attractions in the South.”
Augusta Chronicle

“We live in the golden age of niche tourism, but Wallace…puts her stock more in the whys and hows of the way we eat, travel, and work…the emphasis is not just on what is being served, but what it says about us.”

“[A] delightful book…there can't be many travelogues-of-odd-vernacular this engagingly written, can there? Certainly none (other than Road Sides itself) authored by a woman with a master's degree in folklore, an author whose thorough and engaging descriptions of Southern regional standouts and culinary peculiarities are enhanced by her own full-color drawings.”
Austin Chronicle

“Emily Wallace combines two of America's favorite pastimes—eating and roadtripping—into one colorful collection. Using Wallace's guide as a map, readers can cruise around the South, hopping from one detour and destination to another enjoying tons of good food and fun factoids.”
Nashville Lifestyles

“Bursting with 140 colorful illustrations drawn by Wallace, Road Sides is an A to Z compendium of essential visits for a well-fed Southern road trip.”
Arts & Sciences Magazine

“[Wallace] canonizes the foods of the Southern road, in all their kitschy, diverse, delicious glory…[Road Sides has] a little something for everyone—an iconic New Orleans po’ boy, the ties between NASCAR and moonshine, the real story of Harland (better known as Colonel) serves as a handy resource for anyone eager to get a taste of the gems that dot Southern roads.”
The Local Palate

Road Sides is clearly aimed at a general audience of readers with its journalistic style of participant observation and whimsical illustrations, but Wallace makes use of her folklore training and scholarly connections in both the historical contextualizing of automobile culture and the critical lens with which she points out the good, the bad, and the ugly of Southern history and practice... What emerges from this wide-ranging investigation is [a] story of innovation, both technological and entrepreneurial, about the creative minds who came up with a new product or process or marketing strategy to adapt to a world that is changed irrevocably by car travel.”
New Books in Food

“In the tradition of Alexis de Tocqueville and William Least Heat-Moon, Emily Wallace invites readers for a ride-along that reveals truths about people and the roads they take. Her strengths are different: She can draw and paint! She’s funny! She’s been to Weeki Wachee! But the results are just as insightful. Road Sides is flush with intellectual curiosity and small-town wonder and begs a full tank and an open road. ”
John T. Edge, author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South

“This personal tour of the South is both fascinating and beautiful to look at. I’m craving a road trip to check out all the exciting sites and snacks.”
Julia Rothman, author of Hello NY: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Five Boroughs

“America’s highways have always reflected our culture, and Wallace’s beautifully illustrated book shows us there are still regional foods and off-the-beaten-path restaurants that deserve our attention and our patronage.”
Edward Lee, chef and author of Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef's Journey to Discover America's New Melting-Pot Cuisine

“Only the brilliant Emily Wallace could capture the complex, curious, delightful, disturbing, and delicious roadside landscapes of the modern South where pop culture, inventive food entrepreneurs, and hungry travelers have intersected for decades. Wallace’s unmistakable artistry, humor, and smarts enliven our take on these beloved venues and their hold on the southern imagination and palate.”
Marcie Cohen Ferris, author of The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region

“Road Sides is an easygoing but illuminating guide to the region’s earnest quirkiness and made this lapsed southerner nostalgic, in the best possible way.”
Jane Mount, author of Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany





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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca