From Hillbilly Highway to Gourmet Row The culinary landscape in Commentator Daniel Pinkwater's Hudson Valley town has suddenly been transformed, and he says it's almost impossible to believe. The stretch of hillbilly highway is all of a sudden turning into slob gourmet row.

From Hillbilly Highway to Gourmet Row

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Sometimes life in your neighborhood can change for the better. Commentator Daniel Pinkwater has proof. The culinary landscape in his town has suddenly been transformed, and he says, it's almost impossible to believe.

DANIEL PINKWATER: Let me see. How am I going to describe this without insulting all my neighbors? I have it. I'll change the name of the town. So if you are in Jekyll(ph) Park, New York, on a section of Route 9G, it's trailer parks with crummy stores and a couple of garages, and the folks you see around there are on the evolutionary trek to country music, but have yet to arrive.

Now, along that stretch of road, if for some reason you decided to eat something, it used to be you could get a shocking slice of pizza - well, not pizza exactly but something resembling pizza that tasted more like the box pizza comes in. You could get a scary hotdog. And there were one or two places that offered the Hudson Valley national dish, the Jitterbug. A Jitterbug is a slice of Wonder Bread topped with a slice of tepid meatloaf, which is topped in turn with a mound of mashed potatoes and brown gravy over all. Yum. And this has been Route 9G for all the years I have lived here, until lately.

First, Angelina's opened up, a pizzeria. What prompted me to even cross the threshold, I cannot say. Lifelong glutton though I am, self-preservation is the strongest instinct. I think I was having a fight with my wife and wanted to do something anti-social. So I dragged her in. And lo, it is not only a good pizzeria, it is an excellent one, plus you could order things like Soupe de peche, and a variety of soups, which are from heaven. What the heck? What is it doing here?

Then, a few months later on the site of several former horrid flyspecked delis that failed opens a Mariachi, a Mexican place. This cannot be. Miss Doogaduff(ph), I said to my wife. We never considered setting foot, but our vet was from Texas, moves his practice to just down the road, and gave it his Texan and veterinarian stamp of approval. We ordered tacos and Chilies Rellenos, both great. This was getting surreal.

Then, just today, on the site of the most depressing soft ice cream stand in the hemisphere, we discover a new establishment with not only real Italian ices and gelato, but the best ices and gelato there can be. So this stretch of hillbilly highway, without hills even, is all of a sudden turning into slob gourmet row. I am uneasy.

On radio stations popular with residents of this very neighborhood, there are guys talking about the end of times as predicted by some bible or other. Weird things start to take place and then it's all over for this Earth we live on. Not being one of the elect, I prefer to take a pass on the whole phenomenon.

But I'm going to order what might be my last bowl of Chicken Wild Rice Soup at Angelina's, just in case.

SEABROOK: Daniel Pinkwater lives and eats very well in New York's Hudson River Valley.

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