Chatting with Mark DeCarlo

"You can not truly travel without eating the local foods," comments Mark DeCarlo, comedian, actor, author of A Fork in the Road and host of Emmy-winning Windy City Live. "Anyone who eats in chain restaurants while on vacation should have their passport revoke."

The former host of Travel Channel's Taste of America adds, "Food is the core story of the planet. People moved and mixed based on where the food was."

"Even today, the first thing people tell you about their vacation is all the foods they discovered."

"Food is travel."

During the four seasons of Taste of America, DeCarlo says he came across many outstanding personalities in the country and was fortunate enough to meet many of them.

"These are funny people who are passionate about food and as comedy 101 tells us, anyone who is passionate about anything is a source of comedy. I had simply learned too much about us in general and had to share it with all my fans."

So, he did the obvious thing. He wrote a book about all of it.

A Fork on the Road is filled with all the little places he and his team found along the way during the show's production.

"Many places were featured on-screen, some we found after hours, " he recalls. "All are delicious and populated with funny people The book is a snapshot of American told through the prism of food and travel."

He points out while In Travels with Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck talked about America at the dawn of the Interstate Age, while his book talks about a different America at the dawn of the information age.

And when it comes food in the south, DeCarlo says the best food city in the region as well as America is New Orleans.

"It combines southern, soul, French, Italian, Caribbean, African and now, post-Katrina, Mexican foods into one giant gumbo.

The physical location of the city, along the River as the main historical artery of travel, brought all these influences together, where they continue to simmer to this day."

According to him, if you're looking for the best fried chicken in America, it happens to be in the south as well.

"You can find it in a little hole-in-the-wall outside of Memphis called Gus's Fried Chicken. It's fantastic, and worth the trip just to go there."