Saturday, July 16, 2011

Immovable Feast

Portland does it different. One of the recent explosions in every major metropolis is the food truck phenomenon. This moveable feast brings creative hand held food to the masses, wherever they might amass. Think of it as a 7-11 hot dog that comes to you, but is freshly made, likely involves organic ingredients, and has a distinctive foodie-est appeal. It’s the taco truck, but not nearly as disgusting.

In LA, food trucks congregate outside new media corporate parks on lunch hour, at cultural events such as museum family days, outside bars at the exact hour you might need something salty and carb-loaded. The trucks are tweeting so you know where they’ve been sighted, which creates exclusivity and hence demand. Korean tacos: For a limited time only!

The way LA does food trucks (and most everything for that matter) is based on transit culture. You’re there at your destination, you’ve parked your car, and here you will hang. Bringing fun food to the music festival, the art fair, the lunch hour  - it works for Angelenos. 

In Portland, however, a huge number of folks are on two wheels. And it rains a lot. So the food truck phenomena here looks a little different.

Food courts have blossomed all around town, in tiny corner lots. The trucks are smaller than the LA version; my friend referred to them as “food carts.” (The size variance says a lot about a lot of things.) The carts circle up like wagons around a center area with tent-covered picnic tables, essential for the riainy pdx cime. Folks stop in to these hot spots for a crepe, a burrito, a shawarma sandwich, on their way to another destination. Or for a quick bite on your way home from work. It’s prefect on a sunny afternoon, a rare gem that I was blessed with on my last visit, when you’re cycling, walking, or in my case, driving by.

Stop and set a while. Enjoy soul food, comfort food, someone's idea of fusion or just have a snack. At heart, the food-cart court fare is similar to what's served up in LA, but the feel of the space is pure PDX.

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