I don’t know why, but food just tastes better when it comes from a truck.
A part of American dining habits for centuries, things have certainly evolved from the early days of food trucks. Distinct from fair food — which is probably how most people first experience mobile dining — food trucks these days are in a category all their own.
No longer just hot dog carts and ice cream trucks — although there’s certainly nothing wrong with those — today you can find just about anything about in a food truck. Thanks to the recent surge in their popularity, I’ve enjoyed everything from fried octopus to gourmet ramen purchased from kitchens on wheels.
I’ve always been an adventurous eater. So when I was 15 and loose on the streets of Berlin, and my German host sister introduced me to the joys of street food by presenting me with a plate of unidentified curry, I didn’t hesitate to dig in.
The language barrier and my willingness to eat just about anything mean that I’m still not entirely sure what I ate — I suspect it was goat — but that delicious mystery meal inspired in me an enduring love for food trucks.
I’m not sure what exactly about food on wheels is so appealing to me.
Maybe it’s the fun of tracking down your favorite trucks on social media like a tasty scavenger hunt — I won’t lie, I definitely have alerts set up for my favorite eateries’ Facebook posts.
Or maybe it’s because food trucks tend to be dedicated to one type of food, perfecting their chosen cuisines, be it Belgian waffles or bulgogi. I love that you can get a fantastic meal without the effort of getting dressed up and going out to a restaurant.
It’s probably also just a bit of nostalgia.
When I was a student at Ohio University, the tiny town of Athens was blessed with a unusual wealth of food trucks offering everything from pizza to Cuban sandwiches. To this day, I can think of few things better than sitting on the College Green surrounded by friends with a warm gyro in hand — am I right, fellow Bobcats?
Last November, the Burrito Buggy, an OU campus fixture since the 80s and one of my favorite Athens food trucks, made an appearance at a Dayton brewery for an alumni event. Nothing, not even the 30 degree weather and the daunting line, was going to stand between me and cheesy goodness.
There’s just something about sharing a beer and a burrito in the company of other hungry Bobcats, including one of my favorite high schools teachers. It’s something I don’t think could happen anywhere besides the line for the Buggy.
Maybe I’m out of my mind, but I waited in the cold for that foil-wrapped handful of happiness for three hours. It tasted like college. It was the best burrito I have ever eaten.
Since moving back to the area after college, my food truck horizons have only expanded. They’re just about everywhere these days, and I for one could not be happier.
Sometimes I go out looking for one specific food truck with Dad, my best foodie buddy, but when those rolling restaurants gather for a rally or a festival, more often than not that’s where you’ll find me.
In fact, keep an eye out for me this weekend. If you’re going to the Miami County Food Truck Competition and Rally on Saturday, chances are you’ll find me there, taking it all in.
You might find me wherever you find the Ramen Rickshaw. Email me at [email protected] and tell me about your favorite food truck.