The Taco Truck Goes to the Prom

03Aug09

stamos mulletOne thing we don’t do here in Seattle: TRENDS. That means anything trendy, trend-like or trend-worthy. Here, a John Stamos mullet doesn’t turn a head. Scrunchies remain prominent and proliferate. And you can rest assured you wouldn’t find a phone that has the Gummy Bear Song as a ring tone. Even the most popular Franco Sarto shoes this season are the ones that are most like last years series. Change just isn’t popular in the PNW. That’s why the Fatties are so disappointed to see the emergence of the pimped taco truck trend. Somebody (a troublesome lad who is both a project runway groupie and xzibit/pimp my ride fanboy) got the big idea to take the dirty dumpy former-short-bus taco truck and spiff one out to become a fancy wanna-be-bistro on wheels schlepping glazed pork belly on a stick with shooters of hibiscus infused lemonade shots. These dolled up grease trucks then travel around town, to even the most inhospitable locations (such as East of I-5, where both a passport and sasquatch shots are required) dropping their load of chow to foodies lined up in the parking lots of gas stations. Basically, the once-loser taco truck found a fancy dress at the Rack and now expects a date to the Prom.

I suppose this started with those baseball folks – tired of sucking down hot dogs drowning in chili, nachos glazed with hot rubber “cheese product” and handfuls of Tums chased by cups of watered down beer, the ball parks have upgraded their offerings. Now even the most traditional stadiums are delivering up bowls of chow mein, buckets of organic caesar salads and silly plastic wine cups filled with local Pinot Gris. Is this the natural evolution? No, I say. This is anything but natural. The tricked out taco truck is the bastard love child of reality television (the patient zero of all current day evil) and Food Network overload. It used to be that chefs were the misunderstood, over-worked, under-paid curmudgeons of society, properly hidden in closed, dark, dank kitchens, only let out the back door to smoke packs of Marlboro reds chased with the most expensive Cabernet in stock. Now we’ve raised a species of cooks that grew up watching the magical hands of Iron Chefs (original Japanese version, of course) and dreaming of running their own branded food empire (complete by owning a handful of restaurants, publishing a variety of cookbooks and hosting their own self-promoted television series). Shameful trend indeed. That’s what they’ve become.

And now, the results. In the name of identifying the culprits (rather than promoting their fancy-crap-hoisted-on-crostini-rolling-around-on-wheels) we announce three offenders of the pimped taco truck touring our local streets.

maximus pig busOn a spring day in 2008 the kids over at Beecher’s cheese (yes, them) thought they’d take an old bus, apply mass amounts of metal shrapnel and sculpt a giant pig on wheels. The result is the Maximus Minimus, a moving swine steered around Seattle serving up pulled-pork sammies and slaw available in two flavors – hot or sweet (maximus or minimus). Sure, that seems harmless… up until you’re confronted with two drink options: ginger lemonade or hibiscus nectar. Really now. That pig just don’t fly.

skillet street airstreamStarting in 2007, two young chefs whipped up Skillet after getting their hands on an Airstream and tricking it out with an indoor kitchen. Their specialty is an intriguing bacon jam (available for purchase online should you prefer to avoid chasing down your food in a ridiculous scavenger hunt around town), which is served atop sliders which are an apparent regular on the changing menu. You can visit their site for more details about this joint, including their touchdown locales and current menu items, though let me warn you now the page was clearly built by a youngster keen on using his own self-created font which spreads words across a page so wide and haphazardly you feel like you’re in the front center seat of the Cinerama desperately yanking your neck to and fro trying to read the Star Wars intro. These people reek of desperate pick-me-pick-me popularity junkies who were surely the last to be chosen for a game of dodgeball. Grow up.

marination tacosMost recent to join the bistro-on-wheels crowd is Marination a former-UPS truck that started rolling around town in the spring of 2009. These kids bring a whole new flavour to the Northwest – traditional, authentic Hawaiian and Korean street eats, including Spam-featured dishes which are quite popular in the islands. And while I’m not interested in consuming canned meat product, no matter what swanky trendsters say, it also gives a certain f-u to some foodie snobs. Surprisingly this place even offers a tacos at their taco truck. Kalbi, miso ginger chicken and tofu tacos, but tacos nonetheless. While we remain disgusted with this ridiculous taco truck pimpin’ trend, it is possible, perhaps, that maybe just one, single, little visit, in the name of food research,  wouldn’t be so bad…

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