The Folly of My Food Truck Fanaticism

With any craze, there comes a point when you need to stop and ask yourself, Why am I doing this again? For example, everyone in America standing in line in the hot, hot sun or the freezing cold for a measly cupcake should be asking themselves, Is this really worth 45 minutes of my life? Meanwhile, I am asking myself what is so great, really, about food trucks?

I love the idea of food trucks. I walk up to a line of trucks and feel downright giddy. I’m a kid in a candy shop with all these promising choices. I have but one thought and it is,
But obviously I can’t. So after careful deliberation I pick a truck and get in line. But as I’m waiting, euphoria wears off and reality sets in. I start to realize, Hmm, standing outside a running truck inhaling exhaust fumes for ten minutes has really curbed my appetite and has in fact made me quite nauseous.
And then I look at the prices and think, Why does this cost ten dollars again? There’s no shelter from the elements, no place to sit and eat, no ambience, no service, and often no utensils or napkins. There is literally just the food. So without all that overhead to incorporate into the price, why is my lunch still so expensive? I thought the trade-off of eating out of the back of a truck would be that it cost…like…a dollar.
Then I eat my food and am almost always disappointed. In hindsight I realize, Well of course this is never as good as it sounds. Because it was made in a truck.
Why would I expect otherwise? Why would food taste better just for having been made in a truck? I think for me, this misconception comes from the fact that each truck has its own specialty. There is the pho truck, the BBQ truck, the dumpling truck, the seafood truck, the pizza truck, etc. So if this is the one thing they do, they must do it well! If only that were so. Sometimes, serving a limited menu means that you can buy food in bulk, make it all in advance, and scoop it out of crock pot A, B, or C as customers order. So while a cilantro lime fish taco always sounds good on paper, a dollop of defrosted baby shrimp bought in a ten-pound bag from Costco and cooked hours prior is never the fresh and tasty treat I had in mind. And yet I keep coming back, still deluded into thinking that this ten-dollar grilled cheese is going to transcend the possibilities of bread and cheese because it has a whole truck devoted to it, and that means something, dammit. 

34 thoughts on “The Folly of My Food Truck Fanaticism

  1. You are so funny. This essay made a light bulb go off over my head. “Hey. Wait a second! She’s right! Why am I paying $12 for a sandwich being sold out of a dirty camper?” It is absolutely the diesel fumes that are causing us to think food trucks are a great idea.

  2. I am also a food truck stalker as you are! Here were I work in NYC the avenue has a bunch – cupcakes, mac & cheese, tacos, thai, halal, you name it!

    Think I’ll head out to the burrito truck now! We’re such suckers aren’t we?

  3. I am also a food truck stalker as you are! Here were I work in NYC the avenue has a bunch – cupcakes, mac & cheese, tacos, thai, halal, you name it!

    Think I’ll head out to the burrito truck now! We’re such suckers aren’t we?

  4. Not much opportunity for food truck food here, though I agree it sounds awesome. Till ya think about it. After the Dude picks his nose -or any other orifice- where does he wash his hands?

    Trust me, when you get to be my age, you won’t trust anyone’s cooking.

  5. Pingback: The Folly of My Food Truck Fanaticism | Purely Mad

  6. I’ve wondered about this when I was in food lines. At least the portions were a nice size (LOL!, as though more of poor is better!) So, to be fair, what’s the perspective on the wait for speciality coffees in foreign named sizes? Isn’t that equally absurd? Or the price of a bottle of water (at least you get that pretty fast).
    Nice blog 🙂

  7. Well, I gotta say, that I have a friend who makes THE best chicken wings in the entire WORLD (I’m seriously NOT kidding), and right now he ASPIRES to selling them from a truck. He slow cooks them at home and delivers them to your door (or an agreed-upon place to meet). He’s looking forward to getting his first truck, and these are something that really do taste fresh even after cooking and freezing them! (I know this from experience, and believe me, I’m picky about what food I eat.)

    You should check out his website:

    If he ever gets a Food truck, he will change your mind about them. 🙂

  8. Way back before there was such a thing as a “food truck”, and when I still ate meat, every once in a while I just had to have a great big ole’ chili dog from a food stand on the streets of DC. If you’re going to eat something from a truck, eat crap. What I really don’t get is people buying salads and healthy crap off a truck. Really? Of course, people that eat healthy get on my nerves in general…

  9. I totally agree. Personally, I enjoy eating while sitting at a table without worrying about dropping my food down my shirt and onto the street below. I never really thought about the exhaust fume aspect until now, thanks for that. Nice post, I enjoyed it.

  10. And I thought I was the only one that thought food trucks were awesome! And then I started to think like you about the cost. When I started thinking logically about it, I quickly ran to the tailpipe of the food truck and killed those smart brain cells. Thank goodness or I would never have forked over (wortkess food pun intended) for the five dollar chili fries.

    I can’t wait to tell you about how my kids like to wait in a 30 minute line for donuts at Voodoo Donuts in Portland. At least the people watching was fun for me.

  11. I have minimal food truck experience – a by-product of the rural areas I find myself living in – but I have the same reaction when I go. Mediocre food in a styrofoam bowl eaten with a cheap plastic fork. I think they are just yet another hipster food trend that will die out.

    The only one that impressed me was the Thai truck outside Denali national park. Good food, fair prices. In a place of $28 entrees, a decent $10 meal was a lifesaver.

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