Some may call it a trend, others may call it a fad, but to me it’s an adventure. It is a culinary journey that has long been established and paved yet we, Americans, are just rediscovering and for a very few re-inventing an almost century old idea. Having been raised in Asia I’ve grown accustomed to the idea of “street eats” or street vendor foods. From eating grilled chicken intestines on skewers to drinking sugar cane juice from a plastic bag. The bravado I have shown through my culinary adventure has made me no stranger to the idea of street food. On the contrary, the old conservative American way of eating simple hamburgers and hot dogs is slowly dissipating behind America’s traditional past time and suburbia family-cook outs. As slowly as this old tradition is fading, new ones will steadily spring up and give this culture a new look and certainly a more refined taste bud. Over the past few years, there has been a plethora of food trucks popping up all over cities and downtowns across the map. For us, and by us I mean the U.S, food trucks is as close as we’re going to get in experiencing the wonders of overseas street vendors, exotic treats, and somewhat unusual style of eating. The “new age” food trucks have been quite popular in the past couple of years and have grown enormously through countless of facebook shares and re-tweets. From what I can recall, one of the first pioneer in the food truck industry that made its mark stateside is Kogi BBQ based in Los Angeles, CA. But to be honest with you despite hearing it so much I never caught on to the food truck craze until recently when a few of my good friends invited me to Truckeroo.
Truckeroo is a monthly food truck festival that resides at the base of the Nationals Stadium Bullpen in Washington D.C. This ongoing festivity occurs only on the first Friday of every month from April through October. There are over 20 trucks (and still growing), each providing an ununiform taste and diverse style of cooking; from the Lobster Truck to satisfy the seafood lovers to a Spanish inspired Tapas truck to fulfill your cravings for savory canapés (finger foods). The great thing about this festival is that it is NOT a grab and go type of event, the social and friendly atmosphere caters to people of all ages. You have the freedom to enjoy a gourmet style pulled pork sandwich with a side of fresh squeezed lemonade with your family on a breezy afternoon. Or you can bring your friends later on in the evening and trade that cup of lemonade for a nice cold beer!
Since it was my first time going, I wasn’t really sure what to expect but finding out that it was free admission along with free parking…in D.C. I knew it was a start of a good night. Since we arrived there pretty late in the evening we expected that the line was going to be a little of bit of struggle, but little did I know it wasn’t JUST a long line, it was more like a 15-25min LONG LINE (of course this is not the case for every food truck, just the ones we wanted to try). A heads up for all the food truck virgins and first time goers, if you would like to try as many food trucks as possible I would suggest you get there a little early. Luckily for me, I came with a couple of my friends and they were nice enough to stand in line while I and a couple of other guys hit the Bullpen for some refreshments. I honestly was not planning on drinking for a couple of reasons, one of them being I had an empty stomach and most importantly I didn’t want to ruin my appetite. But after seeing the drinks menu I couldn’t resist and ended up getting a Vodka and lemonade for $8 for the first round. And seeing that our friends were still standing at almost the exact same spot as they were when we left them, we decided to head over to the other side of the block and looked for a truck that looked somewhat intriguing. It wasn’t long until a bright orange painted TOP DOG truck grabbed our attention. We headed over right away, ordered our food, and started eating within 5 minutes despite the somewhat long line. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of my hot dog because I was starving at the point, but the item I ordered was called “The Boss”. It consisted of a smoky flavored sausage, glazed in sweet and spicy BBQ like sauce, and topped with freshly cut onions and banana peppers (don’t quote me on the banana part). I was raving on how good it was, until someone asked “I mean it’s a hot dog, how can you possibly mess it up?” And if you are wondering the same thing you are absolutely correct, but instead of asking “how someone can mess it up?” you should be asking yourself “how you can make it better?” It was just a combination of the condiments, toppings, and the smoky flavored sausage that really made an impression on my taste palate.
By the time we came back into the line it was time for our friends to order at the Tapas truck. I vaguely remember looking at the menu, and the next thing I knew I overheard my friend ordering a pork slider and impulse decision took over and that’s exactly what I got. It was delicious from what I remembered hahaha. My mouth just couldn’t break down or even distinguished which ingredients made the slider taste good. Just know that, if you love pork and you like garlic you’re gonna be a fan of this.
Unfortunately for me my food adventure ended at the Tapas Truck that night, I really had plan to at least try two more food trucks but as drinks came rolling in and good friends were around my taste bud was sidetrack by the sweetness of alcoholic beverage and heavy conversation.
Even though the season is almost over, there is always a chance to catch these guys wandering the streets of Washington D.C. or even Northern Virginia. Lets hope that this is not a trend, but a mark that will stick around and become apart of our growing culture. There is no better way to better understand and immerse oneself to another culture than through our taste buds.
Photos: Andrew Sudwi & Sebastian Marin
Words: Andrew Sudwi