It’s not often that travellers get to experience something new right alongside residents, but February’s Food Truck Fest in Vancouver, Canada will allow just that; while the city’s residents have historically toiled under the cruel yoke of anti-food cart legislation, new legal changes have granted food carts their inveterate rights to free assembly, and free association. As a result, every travelling gastronomer should make a point of stopping in Vancouver this month. Just be sure to allot enough time for many meals.
Held at the Vancouver Famer’s Market near Nat Bailey Stadium, Food Truck Fest features double the usual number of food trucks all month-round. These include Market regulars like Eli’s Serious Sausage, Blue Smoke BBQ and the famous Taser Grilled Cheese. New recruits to the Market scene include JJs Trucketeria, Feastro – The Rolling Bistro, Yolk’s Breakfast, and Slavic Bite.
Food trucks have a number of virtues and advantages over old, stationary “restaurants” and even similarly speedy fast food joints, combining quality and convenience. Yes, they may move around a bit and confuse your lunch-time plans, but if you miss your favourite Vancouver food truck – guess what? They move, and some other mastication-mobile will quickly roll up to satisfy you. And besides – for the entire month of February, you know exactly where they’ll be.
Food trucks are able to offer good food on the go primarily because of their necessarily smaller menus. Restaurant fare is heading in this direction as well, both due to falling budgets and an increasing consumer preference toward simplicity. Few restaurants have the focus and clarity of a good food truck, however, their tiny kitchens geared to producing just one item or type of item, and thus producing that item with passion and aplomb.
Additionally, food trucks have neither the budget nor the physical space for a large kitchen staff, so your chef is often your sever as well. Restaurateurs are passionate, conscientious people who care about their customers, but human nature dictates that the chef will view the food differently if he or she must place it personally into the customer’s waiting hands. A food truck is a restaurant stripped to its most essential elements.
Walk the streets of Vancouver and you might find a flame-painted truck selling hot-dogs from Dougie Dog, holder of the Guinness World Record for most expensive hotdog. You might run into the Kaboom Box, which makes burgers so good they sell to walkers despite being monstrous and barely portable. The world-famous JapaDog takes the North American hotdog to exotic and often bewildering places with noodles, plum sauce or seaweed. JapaDog has been so successful that its food-truck origins have led to five permanent locations in Vancouver, and a new one just opened in New York City!
Vancouverites have spent the past year or so rushing to embrace their newly enfranchised food trucks, as evidenced by the sheer number of them now rolling the city’s foodie-packed streets. However it’s only with the Food Truck Fest that the city will see for the first time the circling of the food wagons that has been so successful in cities like Portland. Make the pilgrimage to Vancouver this February and you’ll be able to say you saw the start of a new phase for one of North America’s premiere food destinations.