The Day The Taco Turned Into A Frozen Yogurt

marazul

This Saturday a bunch of food trucks are gathering in a parking lot en el centro, setting up shop, and hoping you’ll wait in line to order some of their food items. According to the website, there will be all kinds of trucks, from normal taco trucks to those fancy “mobile gourmets” that seem to be all the rage on the Westside. And it will cost you $5 just to get near these trucks. I feel obligated to share this information with you, but I certainly can’t condone it.

I feel like a dick for writing this: I hope you don’t go.

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A few years ago, the food truck was merely a sustenance delivery vehicle. It either came to you on a job site or you met up with it cuz it was near work or somewhere on your way home. Because it was practical to working people, the notion of the “roach coach” persisted. Then some idiots tried to clamp down on the trucks so as to not compete with non-mobile eateries. (Capitalism hates competition.) Everyone got upset about that, and some battles for public opinion ensued. Around this time the mediocre Kogi truck and their non-vegetarian kimchi quesadilla got the attention of people that need to be told where its ok to eat, and they told others where its now okay to eat as well. A sort of consumption gossip circle.

Back on the list of acceptable goes the truck. And shit has gone downhill from there.

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What once was an affordable way to get a quick and decent meal has now unnecessarily been turned into a foodie experience, with the associated price hikes and gimmicky fare. The taco truck trapped in the pinkberry mind warp. Do you remember Pinkberry? It was a frozen dessert that was mind-bogglingly popular for no good reason. Being into Pinkberry back then meant that you were in the know, that you were up on things, that you were kinda invited to a party anyone could attend. Spend a few bucks and be fleetingly part of the cool ones. But once you deposited your empty carton into the trashcan on your way out the shop door you realized the sad reality: nobody cares. Whether you liked the flavors or not, you did your part to promote a food fad. And nothing ruins a good thing like a fad.

[audio:http://laeastside.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/comeagain.mp3]

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I see all these gourmet food trucks popping up with some stupid concepts, stuff that you just know doesn’t make any sense, and I just shake my head in disgust: why were these fools blessed with rich parents instead of me? Oh well, whatever. Let them live out their dreams of notional snacks. I’ll try some of them, eventually, I’m not that much of a wet towel. But how do you rationalize a $5 entry fee to access street food? That’s the price for a meal! This event turns the logic of the mobile truck on its head by charging you for the privilege of buying their food, all while making it inconvenient to access. It just defeats the purpose. I’m not even going to ponder on the sickness of those that paid $30 for the VIP street food package, cuz that’s just revolting. In the bad way. No doubt many people will go to this “fest” as its the next thing to do, before the herd moves on to something else. This sort of outing just plasters FAD all over an otherwise good idea, makes it part of that endless drive to find the next cool. What’s wrong with food just being food?

If you really care about mobile food options, then you’ll support them when you see them around and you need a bite to eat. But encouraging this fadification of a basic human necessity is a recipe for self-destruction. This isn’t like playing with your food, its making a joke out of it.

I’m not going.

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www.lastreetfoodfest.com

UPDATE!
It seems there were even better reasons not to go than the ones I came up with!

Damn! It seems like it really ruined the name of “street food”!

27 thoughts on “The Day The Taco Turned Into A Frozen Yogurt

  1. i concur as well.

    It is quite laughable because “they” the people that are doing this already know that their time is soon expiring…that is why they have tried to “switch” to this food truck “food court” idea.

    I hope they know how to change flat tires on their food trucks 🙂

  2. I second your distaste for Kogi (their attitude more than anything infuriates me), but don’t let the hordes of “those in the know” get you down. If you liked frozen yogurt and cupcakes before Pinkberry and Sprinkles you wouldn’t stop liking them just because it became popular would you? You might not drop $5 admission to pay $5 per cupcake, but stay the course, and the cool kids will move on to the taco tables until the economy rebounds and small portions of ridiculously priced French food become de rigueur again:
    “Bring us your finest food stuffed with the second finest”
    “Good choice sir, that’s lobster stuffed with tacos”

    I’ll go, roll my eyes because I was into this band before they were cool, but I’ll still get some good food out of it.

  3. I reciprocate those feelings about the new food rage. That’s my dad’s truck on the top of the post. He saved for years, going from the trunk of his car to selling from an old converted ice cream truck to finally having enough for the big blue truck that now parks on Figueroa. Its a family business and it was built on the food it sells. Necessity is the mother of invention and that is why we have the truck. It was the most affordable way to have your own business. He started with great food and found the cheapest way to make it inexpensive and safe and my dad has been doing this for 32 years.

    It worries me that these fad trucks will put other long standing trucks in danger once the fad is over. They had been provoking the city and that has caused a spill over to happen when policing the older trucks. Many people have made these their lively hood for decades.

  4. El Chavo, if it weren’t for these denunciations of allegedly cool stuff, I wouldn’t really know what was popular. Thank you for the information.

    What’s up with the Border Grill doing a truck? They’re already famous and have TV shows and stuff. That’s like McDonald’s running a truck.

    I think it’s funny that the beer profits go to the LA Food Bank. Why not simply give “free food” coupons to the food bank? Then, suffering people can participate in the foodie fad. While they’re surfing the web looking for work, they can check into Twitter and see what trucks are around, and go get a bite.

    That way, upper middle class people wouldn’t need to get drunk and gorge themselves on street food (and then work off the calories at the gym), to raise funds for the unemployed to get food.

    Talk about getting the crumbs from the table of capitalism!

  5. This is something that is going to get worse before it gets any better. As an advocate for lunch trucks, having worked in one when my parents owned one, having first hand experience as a street vendor and all that good stuff, I know that these ‘gourmet’ trucks are getting away with being in certain locations and areas of town that if a normal truck was there it would get ticketed, the health department would go and tell the truck to move, if not the cops and it would face some sort of fine. It’s not only about a fad, but about the discrimination of latino/a food vendors as well.

    There’s even talks of creating a food truck food court, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/02/food-truck-lot-to-open-in-downtown-la.html To me, this is fucking BULLSHIT !! Personally, I don’t mind all these new trucks. I don’t support them, but at the same time I don’t wish anything bad on them either. That’s just bad juju. Lunch trucks have a union, they are organized because of harassment from police and to an extent, other restaurants and haters. They have kept this life style for decades and will continue to thrive from it because it’s not a fad or trend to them, it’s their lively hood. It is their LIVES. They have paid for their homes, put their kids through college and will continue to serve their LOYAL customers great food with down to earth service.

    If these trucks are going to be going around town, then so should any other truck. When a truck or cart gets their permit from the Health Department, they are explicitly told and warned what parts of town they can’t be at. It would seem that some of these new trucks don’t get that lecture like the latino/a ones do. Keep your cupcake, bbq taco truck, but I wanna see it next to and get the same treatment as any other truck out there that operates with the proper permits. BULL SHIT I TELL YA !!!

  6. I have been a food truck fan since I was a kid. In my home town, I looked forward to the tacos, fried burritos, and fries. And the trucks came out for kids sports games and lunches at businesses during the week. So when this last year I heard of all these trucks popping up I thought it was cool but sucky because, like you, I know the thought behind a food truck, convenience and price. So needless to say I have only tried one of these trendy trucks, because there was no way I was driving to one. So when I saw this fest. I saw it as an opprotunity to try some of them. As I waited in line for 45min just to get in, the guilt started to set in. I thought about the hard workers who are always getting hit up by the police, and how these truck owners are probably never bothered. And as I waited for an hour just to place an order, I thought wow, this completely defeats the purpose of a food truck, and after the order was placed I waited another hour to receive my food. So as I waited me and my friend split two food items from two different trucks. And as I heard people place large food orders, and some people not finishing thier large food orders, it did not make me feel as though we were really helping those with out food, get food. what was the message here? Gluttony feeds the Hungry? In theory it sounded like a good idea. In reality, it was a very bad Idea.

  7. Dr Arm, Maybe you need to get some professional advice, as Dr. Freud once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”,.

  8. Yeah, its crazy. No? I think yesterday’s apocalypse that was the LA Food Fest will have a lot of people questioning their sheep-like allegiance to this trend.

  9. I think I’ve finally figured it out. The transplants miss the “street food” in New York. They move to the Westside and think there is no street food (or transit etc.) in L.A. Trendy restaurants, and wannabe restaurant owners who can’t afford Westside rents, fill the void with gourmet trucks. The few remaining Westside natives, who want nothing to do with the urban NYC lifestyle and trucks parking all over their streets, get the trucks kicked out of the Westside. Then the trucks go Downtown and to the Eastside and crowd out trucks that have been there all along. Then Westsiders create a mess Downtown by trying to drive and park Downtown to eat at food trucks. Only in L.A. !

  10. If you look at the comments on their facebook page it seems that almost everyone hated it, calling it a waste of time and money. Not unlike what Bee just said above.

    I hope all the sites that were promoting this event do a follow up on this fiasco. But I think they’ll just hush it up, preferring to go the route of endless cheerleading and boosterism.

  11. They really didn’t think out the logistics if the majority of people were waiting in line. There are so many limits, like, how many plates can be served in an hour. That defines the maximum number of attendees.

    If a truck can serve 100 plates an hour, and there are 35 trucks, you can service 3,500 people per hour. That means, in one hour, a person will get to eat one plate of food (if there are 3,500 attendees).

    That’s great for trucks, but not for eaters, because eating one plate an hour is not enough.

    Anyway… it looks like they should have hired a professional.

  12. Well, I went. If it’s any consolation I visited after biking from Lafayette Park to Marina Del Rey and back. We got there about 3 p.m. when only bicyclists were allowed inside because the place was still beyond capacity. We employed a strategy of finding the shortest lines and so I had a couple wonderful items from a non-truck participant called Sabor di Bahia, two beers from the Belgium Brewing Company kiosks and a red velvet cookie from a truck whose name I’ve forgotten that offered ridiculously priced micro-sweets. Then I got on my bike and got the hell outta there because I felt like such an idiot.

  13. Man, I been feeling this way too about the “New” lunch trucks it is pretty ridicules. I tried the Kogi truck a few times and yes to tell you the truth the tacos just aren’t as good as the tacos I have had from random ol school trucks. I hate waiting in long ass lines at any kind of fest let alone one that you have to pay to get into. Booo to this.

  14. I heard on news radio that there will be a whole line up of food truck on 3rd and Alameda because they got the boot somehow from the Santa Monica area lol

  15. read the blog, read the comments … i hear what you are saying. however, these new trucks are not all bad. in fact, they have opened the door for this conversation to take place AND “the westsiders” to be more “adventurous” in their culinary adventures and try taco truck that they would never have even noticed before. rather than bash them because they are new or different or fancy or whatever – consider that these trucks are also owned, and operated by people who are just trying to making a living by sharing a type of food they are passionate about.

    Speaking of the festival, I hear that some of the “typical” taco trucks were outside of the fest that were capitalizing on the captive audience, who’s to say they they were more legit than the people who were inside? It just goes to show that the trucks, more than anything else, are about opportunity and moxy and you either got it or you don’t.

    Within a few years and as a trend phases to a norm, we will truly see who’s got it … and who don’t.

  16. I’m going to consider this a ‘heads up.’ I hope this doesn’t happen where I live now, in the SF Bay Area. I’m on my way to my fave taco truck now.

  17. Maybe it hasn’t happened in the Bay because regular over-the-counter mom-and-pop fast food there is good.

  18. Sometimes it seems that almost everything emanates from LA, good and bad, the great taco truck revolution began here in LA, especially on the Eastside. The Taco truck phenomenon is now being co-opted by others who will dilute the quality of the product, but at the same time maximize profit through marketing and media control. Kind of like what you see with Taco Bell and Gringolandia’s fascination with Mexicano rooted Chile and spice, “well hells bells Bubba, I kin eat chili a hell of a lot hotter than any Meskin can!”
    I’m sure it won’t be long before we witness a Wolfgang Puck Pizza Truck, or an Alice Waters Border Grill Taco, Energy Star Rated, hybrid ethanol only Truck, on the streets, (In the trendy Bay Area for sure).
    Or a John Rivera (huh? why all of a sudden Rivera?), Sedlar mobile “Southwest Frontera Bistro on Wheels” experience, examining and presenting the culinary craft of the Chichimeca indigenous tribal food fusion infusion of organic and balsamic Amazonian caviar, free range raised grasshoppers, and a quinoa, blue corn and agave sorbet.
    And they (the novo mondo mobile bistro’s), will no doubt be touted as the “new wave” of culinary conceptual cuisine, accepted fondly at all the best locations, sure to be found and loved throughout the USA in places like Malibu Colony, Brentwood, San Francisco/ Marin/Carmel, Brooklyn Heights NY, Newport RI, Greenwich Conn. and parked in front of a plethora of eager Mexican food experts, at the entrance to the Saratoga Golf and Polo Club in Sarasota Springs NY.
    Meanwhile we on the LA Eastside will continue to enjoy the tacos de lengua, al carbon, camaron, or huevos con chorizo, etcetera, etcetera, to be found at the humble yet treasured trucks, parked at those same reliable locations, at all hours of the day and night.

  19. I dont mind this kindof shite as long as they stop farking with the og paisano trucks and food vendors. I took my family to the natural history museum a few weeks back and a loteria grill truck was sitting ont he grass in front of the steps. the normal guys selling hot dogs were banished and that sucked ass.

    Why are street vendors considered quaint unless they are latino, what is the difference betwwen a NYC hot dog cart and one on LA street? If the food is so dangerous than dont eat it, if the liability risk is so concerning than put up a sign saying “eat at your own risk”.

    We are in a bad recession and street vending is the best way for the most poor folks to make a living, common sense is now trumped by classism.

  20. Lot’s of truth to that LA Taco article Chimatli.
    The Gringo’s take from the Mexican Culture various styles and art, goods and services, from clothing to music, low rider cars, the foods, construction techniques and workers and a litany of other items, they water them down or fancy them up, put together a marketing strategy and sell those items at vastly inflated prices.
    The Mexican culture takes goods and services used by USA merchants and manufactures, and with no marketing strategy and limited resources, sells those same goods and services to the public for highly reduced prices and a marginal profit.
    Evidence of this phenomena can be witnessed at the many border towns where Americans go to have their medical needs met, optometrists, hearing aids, dentists offices run like a barber shop, no appointments necessary, false teeth made on the premises! Eyeglass’s custom made can picked up the next morning. Your pharmaceuticals are available without prescription, (or if it’s mandatory a doctor will be available to write a prescription for about twenty bucks), all at about one twentieth the price you would pay in the USA.
    Need a new engine or upholstery for your car? A Mexican will provide that service in one day and at a third of the price you would pay a Gavacho to do it.

    The list could go on and on, but the point is that the Mexican cultural items co-opted by Gringo’s are sold to the consumer as watered down, less than authentic, and less costly to manufacture, yet are much more costly to the consumer, so therefore substantially more profitable for the Seller.
    The USA goods and services co-opted by the Mexican’s are as authentic, durable, and craftsmanlike as that provided by the Gringo’s, but delivered at a substantially lower cost to the consumer, resulting in a much lower profit margin.
    Hijo de la gran puta! what’s wrong with this scenario!

    OK that’s enough from me, I have to go down to the Laundromat this AM because the Vato selling the pirated DVD’s said he would have the “Avatar” blu-ray for sale today, $10 bucks! Maybe if I buy three (and sell two to the Armenian at the Gas Station for $15 bucks each), he will discount the price.

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