Call them “butter,” ’cause they’re on a roll.
What child’s heart doesn’t leap at the sight of the ice cream truck trundling merrily along, its familiar chimes serenading all within earshot with musical notes as enticing as handfuls of colorful hard candies tossed to onlookers? For those of us well past puberty, a softee served from an idling van covered with cartoon characters and picture menus might not hold the same sorcery that it did when we were children, but increasingly nowadays in cities throughout our country and throughout the world, mobile edibles offerings extend far and away beyond mere double scoop swirls and banana splits.
While it’s true that street food is no new development in the world of cooking and eating, the cuisine and delivery method have seen significant evolution. For starters, there are a lot more food options available equally to food lovers and hungry stomachs than were available just a few years ago. Unlike the relatively stationary sidewalk food carts many of us living in metropolitan areas grew up seeing, the ones grilling up gyro meat and chicken kebabs or hawking hotdogs kept lukewarm in a water bath of often dubious origin, the modern breed of street food has grown legs and achieved a range of daily mobility that far outstrips that of the traditional pushcart.
There’s the pizza truck. The lobster truck. The mobile taco hut. The Chinese kitchen on wheels. The Korean taco truck. They roam our cities, some making scheduled stops along regular circuits that customers can track via Twitter. They serve up a hot meal of quality on par with any you’re likely to find in a fixed brick-and-mortar location. Sometimes, they serve them up with amenities like free Wi-Fi access. What they all have in common is that they’re bringing the tasty in every imaginable variety, and chances are, they’re coming soon to a curbside near you.
The concept of the food truck is enjoying critical acclaim not only in foodie-driven internet polls, but in reviews by respected and notable authorities writing for the likes of the New York Times, L.A. Times, Phoodie.com, Chicago Tribune, and Houston Chronicle. Particular evidence of their growing popularity can be found in a new Food Network series called “The Great Food Truck Race.” In each hour-long episode, celebrity chef Tyler Florence tracks the progress of seven mobile food units cooking their way across America in competition for a $50,000 cash prize. With more mobile kitchens offering an expanding variety of cuisine hitting the road every day, the message is a cast-down gauntlet whose invitation is all too clear:
Food lovers, start your engines.
Find the food truck nearest you: