It’s been coming to my attention that I’m a little late to this whole food truck thing. I want to blame living in the Midwest; most food trends seem to start on the coasts and work their way into the flyover states over a couple of years. When I went to high school in St. Louis, I didn’t eat at any of the few food trucks there, due to a commitment to staying in more. But now, thanks to a Guthrie Green food truck event, I’ve had the opportunity to be as trendy and underwhelmed as the rest of the nation.
When I went to the Green last Wednesday, there was a modest crowd, despite intermittent showers, and a respectable twelve food trucks showed up. They ranged from what you’d expect — I don’t think you can go anywhere in Tulsa without running into the Andolini’s food truck — to the slightly more hipster versions of what you’d expect, like the gourmet grilled cheese truck, filling the obligatory upscale comfort food role.
After seeing what all the different trucks had to offer, I decided to join the relatively sizeable line at Lone Wolf Bahn Mi, feeling vaguely guilty about passing up less popular food trucks whose food was probably just as good. My Soy Dijon Portobello Banh Mi took a while to make, which I’ve found is fairly typical when you order vegetarian items at a meat-focused restaurant, and wasn’t especially good. My friends got Andolini’s and grilled cheese, and also ordered from Lick Your Lips Mini-Donuts, which were reportedly pretty tasty.
I feel like my dissatisfaction with Food Truck Wednesday, and food trucks in general, doesn’t really come from the food — it was pretty good, on the whole — but more with how it displays attitudes toward food. In a typical restaurant, we’re encouraged to imagine some team of auteurs, who’ve dedicated their lives to the restaurant, wearing spotless toques and chef jackets, agonizing over perfecting their recipes, and just getting up to general Ratatouille-style shenanigans.
Food trucks partially shatter that illusion. They literally let you see who’s doing the labor, which turns out to be mostly teenagers and immigrants. Though there still might be good food there, it’s clearly less about the food and more about the cash. The Lone Wolf Truck was launched less than four years ago, and specializes in the kind of accessible fusion cuisine that sells well. While their website claims that the food truck was started out of a “passion for banh mi,” I don’t think that anyone who sells a sandwich combining barely cooked portobello, soy sauce, dijon mustard and jalapeno aioli sees their food as much more than an amalgam of trendy words and dollar signs.
With that said, I’m probably being too hard on food trucks. Part of the point of food trucks is that, if you don’t like a food truck, you can just walk ten feet and get something else, which is what I should have done. There’s a much lower entry barrier to run a food truck then there is to run a restaurant, which can be especially helpful if you’re not a white dude and you want to own a business. Food trucks also take away some of the pretension that’s present in restaurants, meaning that it’s easier to judge the food and not the ambiance.
Ultimately, you should probably just decide for yourself, at least if you care about the social implications of food trends; who doesn’t, right? Alternatively, if you just want some mostly-reasonably priced food for lunch on a Wednesday, swing by the Guthrie Green from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., but don’t say I didn’t warn you.