Madi Butler has the best summer internship: She's visiting 22 different cities across the United States and blogging about their culinary scenes. The 27-year-old chef from Kentucky is participating in a project called "Summer by Rail," sponsored by the Washington D.C. nonprofit Rail Passengers Association.
Starting in Portland, Maine, Madi is taking trains down the coast hitting New York City, and then through the South down to New Orleans. She weaved her way back up to Chicago and then turned her eyes toward the Southwest.
She hits Tucson Aug. 12, and plans to learn about our food truck scene, eat at Maynards Market and go on a taco tour. At 3:15 p.m. Aug. 13, she'll also host a public meet-and-greet at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N. Toole. After Tucson, she's finishing off her trip in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Madi is not only a chef, but she's also a community activist and advocate for railway transportation. That's what led her to this gig.
"I haven’t owned a car in three years, so public transit is something I rely on," she said through email. " ... I’ve seen what multimodal accessibility can provide for the community. It’s important to the success of our environment, as well as our future."
You can follow along by reading her blog at summerbyrail.com. But we asked her a few quick questions about her trip!
What's your favorite food city in the US?
"Haha, I get this question a lot and honestly I don’t have a favorite. Each place has shown me such different inspiration and I love seeing how every region has its own flair."
Which city surprised you, and why?
"Meridian, Mississippi was a huge surprise for me. They have a booming arts scene and a really lovely downtown extending directly from the transit station." Read about it on her blog here.
What's the best new thing that you've eaten?
"Yesterday I went to Pueblo Harvest in Albuquerque. I had a number of new foods including amaranth cake with apricots and candied pepitas, as well as Kool-Aid pickles and bison carpaccio. I’m a huge pickle fan so that was a great surprise."