Food trucks or roach coaches?

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    Food trucks

    Customers line up to purchase food from a food truck in Grand Army Plaza, New York, on May 22, 2011. Food trucks are a popular new source for fast, inexpensive, yet creative food.


    San Francisco is a health conscious, food obsessed city. Almost every cuisine in the world has a place of its own here. There are, of course, better and worse restaurants, but few if any, are fast food joints.

    Almost out of the blue, in the past two years, food trucks have magically sprouted everywhere. Becoming a kind of food truck craze.

    What the fuss is all about

    We are not talking about ‘roach coach’ here. Surprisingly, these mobile restaurants offer gourmet meals using quality and organic ingredients as well. From cupcakes, Indian fare, Chilean empanadas, Peruvian, Japanese to Italian cuisine. Whatever your heart aches for, you will find it.

    San Francisco at the front lines: Tweet, meet and greet

    San Francisco has over 150 food trucks roaming the city and Off the Grid offers weekly updates of food truck gatherings, called “sessions,” in different locations throughout the city.

    Sfgate: San Francisco Chronicle has integrated a map on its website, to show the exact location where the most popular food trucks are. They change location daily and people are following them even on Twitter, much like groupies.

    Florida losing food trucks, going back to brick and mortar

    By contrast, Florida food trucks are turning brick and mortar. According to the Miami New Times, some successful food trucks are setting up shop and opening their own restaurants. Stating, how much more convenient it is to be in one location, instead of the difficulties they run into daily, having to roam around the city, trying to find a convenient spot. Setting up shop is much more costly but more effort and energy is directed at promoting the business this way.

    New York Midtown food trucks crackdown

    New York seems to be having problems with the food trucks, though. Too many trucks in the same spots Midtown, and restaurants, rightly so, are not happy with this competition. New York Supreme Court Justice ruled, after a police crackdown on the trucks, that there were to be no “vendor, hawker or huckster” selling from any vehicle parked on metered spots, as quoted in The New York Times. Restaurants were not happy to have so many food trucks parked at their doorstep, so my obvious guess is that they complained, thus prompting the police action.

    Roach coach and heart disease

    Years ago, a friend referred to these food trucks as “roach coaches.” He explained it to me, although it is quite self-explanatory: cheap, unsanitary, unhealthy, fried, greasy foods served from trucks. After this explanation, needless to say, whenever I saw a food truck, I cringed and almost changed side-walks.

    When I was younger, I remember coming back home after having partied all night, and going by food trucks parked in Plaza Castilla, Madrid. They were lined up, ready to serve people either on their way to work or back from a club, like me. At those hours, your reasoning works against you, and you grab anything you can get your hands on to eat. The air surrounding the trucks smelled of fritanga; meaning deep fried, stinking, unhealthy, oil-dripping food. Those fried porras, big supersize sort of churros, had heart disease written all over them. Of course, they used the worst, cheapest oil they possibly could to make the most profit.

    It’s a miracle my generation survived

    Those trucks didn’t follow any sanitary guidelines. Luckily now, at least here in the United States, there are strict rules for preparing and selling foods on trucks. And I must say, it’s a truly delectable experience to eat at any of them. Today, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has specific guidelines just for mobile food establishments. So last but not least, enjoy the craze — with caution.

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