There's something to be said about an overnighter on a train. Finding your designated room-ette, watching the train pull out of Chicago at dusk, listening to the sounds of other passengers settling in for the night. And the thing I was waiting for: the opening of the dining car. Train chugging, I wobbled upstairs, pulled my fair share of heavy compartment doors, and emerged in a little diner. I was asked to fill the last seat at a four-person table, and the pleasantries began. Except for the 200-year old man who was hard of hearing and kept barking my last name as a form of address, dinner went as smoothly as the track bumps would allow. The famed Angus steak failed to appear on our menu, and the iceberg salad was inedible, but the burgers looked good (and tasted good, when I had it for lunch). Feeling over-meated lately, I opted for a vegetarian-tomato-primavera linguine, presented on a blue-rimmed Amtrak melamine. In spite of one of my companions refusing to leave his safe place of the Korean War and issuing racial stereotypes about me, dining on the train really made the 20-hour journey special. I could talk about the next day - the stops in Memphis, Jackson, the blur of cotton fields, the backswamps of the Mississippi, but this is a food blog. Next stop: New Orleans.