Had a conversation with a woman behind the counter at a Dunkin’ Donuts last week. It started with a question on how many bites you’re supposed to take to chew your food. She thought it was 36. I said I thought 30 was ballpark, and I’m a slow eater, but I don’t count my bites. She said she pretty much takes two bites and swallows. I said that sounds dangerous. She then said she does all of her eating while driving. As it happened, I was about to order a road lunch myself (sausage, egg and cheese on an everything bagel), after deciding that the line at the Italian bakery next door was too long to wait, even though I was in the mood for three strip pizza middles.
“Those are hard to eat while driving,” she said.
I agreed. The olive oil and tomato sauce make it difficult to keep the strips from slipping off the wax paper.
“You should’ve seen me back when I drove a stick,” I said.
“I eat a bowl of cereal while driving to work every morning,” she said.
I wondered how that was humanly possible.
“I keep the bowl in my lap and scoop it wicked fast at stop lights,” she said.
“I’ve seen people shaving while driving,” I said.
“I keep all of my makeup in the front seat,” she said. “Once I’ve eaten the cereal, I put on the makeup.”
“What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to eat while driving,” I asked.
“Jell-O,” she said without hesitation. “It’s almost impossible to keep it on the spoon and not get into an accident. Ice cream is a close second.”
“Cone or cup,” I asked.
“Either,” she said. “But usually I go cone.”
I gave her my own list of foods that have a high degree of difficulty in the category of eating while driving: Meatball grinders, Italian grinders, pretty much anything with sauce, oil, condiments or lots of parts.
“At least mine don’t require cutlery,” I said.
“An extra set of clothes in the car is key,” she said. “That’s a mistake you only make once.”
State lawmakers are considering a bill to prevent Rhode Islanders from using their cell phones while driving, which seems a sensible thing, since the talking or texting take priority, turning driving into a secondary activity. But perhaps the bill should be expanded to include grooming and dining as well. I’m not proud of my eat-on-the-road habits, but judging by the mass gorging on the daily commute, I’m not alone out there.
What foods have you tried to eat while driving?
Slice of life
A new GQ magazine article ranks Bob & Timmy’s Grilled Pizza in Providence fifth among “The 25 Best Pizzas You’ll Ever Eat.” National food writer Alan Richman chose their wood-grilled Spinach and Mushroom Pizza for gastronomic glory, while noting that Providence, the city that invented the grilled pizza, is one of the top pizza towns in North America. (He ranks Providence fifth, just behind New York, San Francisco, Detroit and Chicago, and before Los Angeles, New Haven, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Boston.)