Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dude Food! – Keep On Truckin’

Okay, dudes, I know I’m late on the scene, but I finally experienced my first local Food Truck Rally and left there amazed, stuffed to the gills, in total pain, and a total fan...dude!
This Food Truck Phenomenon has become a nationwide cult thing, and here locally they have rolled up, taken the eating world by storm, and appear to be here to stay. Honk! Honk!
     Most of you dudes here on the West Coast know what I’m talking about. This food on wheels craze is yesterday’s news to many of you, but for those of you, like me, who have been leery and stayed away until now, it’s time to get your rolling restaurant grub on!
     When I picture a food truck in my head, I have one distinct picture and almost know what the menu consists of. I often thought they were all so similar that they all met at the same place, loaded the same disgusting - but I’ll eat it anyway food, and then headed out into their perspective areas until they fed us all the same disgusting - but I’ll eat it anyway food only to lock and load and return the next day to do it all over again.


     Of course, we met them gladly each day to look over the extensive menu and then buy the same exact thing, get heartburn at the same exact time, complain about it to the same exact people, and then be back out there for another greasy, fatty, fried fix at the exact “Same Fat Time, Same Fat Station” tomorrow.
     But, just when you thought you’d die of same exactness, this meal on wheels that has been forging a living by flooring it down a One Way street has just pulled onto the New Truck Food Super Highway where you can now travel your taste buds in any direction you want. Honk! Honk!
     Yes, the Food Truck now comes in two varieties.
     Don’t worry, you still have, and can rely on, that traditional white, converted motor home version that slinks up behind your offices or bounds into the center of the construction site to offer you that questionable but often good tasting food we have come to know and love (and hope doesn’t kill us). I’m convinced they birthed and mastered the now famous breakfast burrito, and they are not going away anytime soon.


But, today we are now blessed with a second food on wheels option; one that doesn’t need to sneak around behind buildings or dodge food inspectors, but instead, strolls up bold, brash and brightly colored. They are modern rides that come with catchy names and a diverse menu that give them the courage, and the right, to now park front and center in even the most upscale of malls. They offer first-class gourmet food made by top-notch chefs and are taking the eating establishment on the ride of their lives. This new breed of mobile diner has transitioned into a new choice for not only tasty comfort food made quick and piled high, but also, conversely, produces innovative and healthy menu items in every category of “Dude Food” out there and if you haven’t hit one up yet, the time to seek them, find them and/or chase them down is now!
     

     Did I just mention “food trucks” and “healthy” in the same breath? Is that possible? Is that Sushi? Is that Ahi Poke?
     Remember when the most common name synonymous with these beasts of burgers was “Roach Coach!” They were an “avoid at all cost” food source that only offered a few minutes of hunger relief followed by a couple hours of torment on the can! And yet, bad press and all, the mental clock inside my head couldn’t wait for that horn to blare outside my office building and announce to me and everyone, “If you’re any bit hungry and want to scarf something that’s fatty, fried and most likely bad for you, down in ten minutes so you can get back to work and burp it up for the next couple of hours, we are your only option, like it or not!”
To which I said, “Yes, please.“


     Ah, but enter the new breed of Food Truck. I was caught off guard as I rolled into the parking lot.
     “Look at those colors! Look at those clever names, Seabirds, Home Skillet, Tamarindo, Ragun Cajun, Barcelona on the Go, Tacos Maria. Look at those menus! Where did you come from?
    Where did they come from? Who was it that thought they could change the course of the mighty “Roach Coach” and draw a crowd who actually cared what they ate?
     In talking with a few of the people engulfed in this new food faire, I believe I found my answer. Though there are many factors, three common threads kept creeping into the conversation as I spoke with many of the truck owners, chefs and employees.
     One: People want to experience new foods, healthier foods, and diverse foods.
     Two: In this economy, people don’t always want to pay large restaurant prices to have it.
     Three: Because people are so busy, if you’re willing to drive and meet them halfway, they’ll show up.
     

     And show up they did. I watched for a couple of hours as cars unloaded eager people who  would either run to their favorite truck in anticipation (veterans of the truck munch), or stroll the entire rally in wonderment (rookie ralliers like me). We were like bees looking for just the right flower filled with just the right pollen, and when spotted, we landed hoping it tasted as awesome as the truck looked!


     I, trying to eat healthier, was here for the Avocado Tacos at Seabirds (www.Seabirdstruck.com), a food my brother in law said was must for the non-meat eating crowd. I was not disappointed!
     But, they were smaller than anticipated. Probably the proper size for someone wanting to truly eat healthy portions - which was my mindset when the day began. But, after walking from truck to truck, seeing and reading about amazing food options I realized I wasn’t done eating by a long shot! There were far too many good looking flowers for this busy bee. Honk! Honk!
     I followed up my two avocado tacos with a grilled fish taco at Tamarindo’s (www.tamarindotruck.com), now in my top five, and you know me and fish tacos!
     Then, how could I pass on a roasted pumpkin taco from Taco Maria’s (www.tacomaria.com) made by a chef in full chef garb including scarf, hat, bright white shirt and apron and mixing sauces in a skillet like he was an apprentice to Wolfgang Puck himself. Is there such a thing as a 5 Star Food Truck?


     I was already so full I had to pass on the TOSTADAS de CANGREJO, a tostada made with fresh Dungeness crab, shrimp, avocado and lime juice….what?
     Home Skillet (http://www.homeskillettruck.com/) was cooking up some crazy food and the line was long.
     “You want the best rib-eye steak sandwich around, you find this truck!” one customer told me.
     By this time I could only handle their sweet potato fries…which were awesome!
     I was finally done eating, I hoped, and could barely move. I never made it to Barcelona On the Go (www.Barcelonaonthego.com) for a Shrimp Taco with Chipotle…but there’s always next week!
     Yes, there will be a next week, and weeks to come! The great thing about their websites is they list their locations for you so you can plot your eating travels. The other great thing is they seem to travel in packs so the variety is always there.
    Dude Food! – Keep On Truckin’ Honk! Honk!
     
Dudes, I have found my new source of “Dude Food” and it is definitely worth the short drive. Let all us dudes know if you have a favorite truck we need to track down. Give us the what, where and when.

Keith Poletiek is an author, humorist, speaker, cartoonist and creator of  Dude and Dude the comic strip seen daily at www.GoComics.com/DudeDude

Follow Dude and Dude on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DudeandDude or on the comics page of Yahoo.com (http://news.yahoo.com/comics/dude-and-dude-slideshow/)

keith@keithpoletiek.com 

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