Food Trucks: How to Navigate the Food-on-Wheels Frenzy
You can't walk down the street in New York City today without running into one of the city's myriad restaurants-on-wheels as the food-truck craze has taken over most major cities in America. So obviously, a guide to these street eats had to be written. Heather Shouse has just released Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes From the Best Kitchens on Wheels, offering an intimate look into the seemingly omnipresent trend.
The book begins with a short overview of the movement, tracing its origins to 2008. Shouse writes, "No, Kogi did not invent the food truck. But they might just have reinvented its wheels." Indeed, much of the food-truck craze began on the West Coast, and the book -- which is part guidebook, part cookbook, and part anthropological study -- begins with a look at Los Angeles' taco trucks and works its way across the country, hitting the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, South, and finally East Coast.
The New York City section highlights the NY Dosas, the Arepa lady, Jamaican Dutchy, the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, and the Trini Paki Boys Cart, and has a brief overview of Roosevelt Avenue. Smaller sidebars also highlight Kwik Meal, the Wus, Huan Ji Rice Noodles, All Natural Hot Mini Cakes, Van Leeuwen, Endless Summer, D'Angelo's, Dominick's, Rickshaw Dumpling (which is erroneously described as being overseen by Anita Lo, even though that partnership fizzled a year ago), Heavenly Delights, and Cravings Truck (which is now the Bian Dang Truck). While most of these are tasty eats, it's particularly interesting that Shouse devotes so much space to food carts since the book is called Food Trucks. A minor quibble, and one that probably has more to do with mass-market appeal of the food-truck movement compared with general street eating.
In her introduction to the New York section, Shouse relies heavily on Our Man Sietsema (holla!), noting the rise of different ethnic foods following increasing immigrant populations. A more extensive overview of the history of street eating beginning with the city's old-time street vendors would have been nice, but understandably beyond the scope of this book's intentions.