1) Food trucks are so cool!
2) Everyone thinks food trucks are so cool!
3) Food trucks suck because everyone thinks they're so cool.
It's a classic hipster/foodie rationalization pathway--the notion that something is only cool so long as it's new and fresh and rare and (mostly) unsuccessful. The minute something becomes ubiquitous, or even known outside a certain group who consider themselves tastemakers, it instantly loses its cachet. Essentially, the minute the New York Times, Food Network and NPR discover a thing, that thing must immediately be turned from and scorned as over, dead and yesterday's news.
But that, my friends, is a total load of crap. Though it may seem as though food trucks and food carts have been around forever and are already talked to death, the truth is, it's only the food truck phenomena that's getting stale. It's discussions of their newness and coolness and paradigm-shifting powers to draw grubniks out of the cloistered dining rooms and strange ethnic enclaves to eat out in the bright sunlight, shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellows, that have become dull and repetitious. But the food truck movement itself? It's really just getting started. I envision a day in the not-too-distant future when every reasonably-sized food city has armies of street carts and Airstream trailers and panel vans plying the highways and byways, bringing tacos and foie gras and barbecue and kimchi to the masses. And when that happens, you and me and everyone else who likes eating on the street are going to need maps just to find our way through the tumult.
So doesn't it just figure that Portland--a veritable chef's Valhalla, where everyone and their brother, it sometimes seems, has a food truck and is making a mint slinging gourmet sliders or fried chicken or donuts out in the neighborhoods--now has a map of it's own. A really good map from Microsoft's Bing maps service that not only shows updated locations for just about every cart and truck in the city, but offers reviews (courtesy of Portland Monthly), links to each operation's Twitter feed (if it has one), Foursquare status and updates on specials, opening and closing times, et cetera. The map is scalable by neighborhood, searchable by cuisine and is just awesome in virtually every way--an indispensable tool for those who crave truck food like oxygen and need it on a regular basis.
This new gadget was written about in some detail by Portland native and CNET blogger Josh Lowensohn yesterday afternoon, so if you're looking for more technical details, click the link and read all about the nitty-gritty. As for me, I was just wondering when Seattle is going to get something similar--a cool little widget of our own that'll let all those who aren't too cool for food trucks known where everyone is at any given time, what they're serving, who's there right now and how much time is left before the tacos or poutine run out.
Oh, and also? While I'm on the subject of wishes, I think that one of the things Seattle needs before getting a map of all its food trucks is more fucking food trucks. Yes, I am thrilled with the ones we have. Like a little fat kid let loose at the State Fair, there is almost nothing about any of them that I dislike and would gladly spend days at a stretch just jumping around between Skillet and Marination and Maximus and all the weird little taco trucks and hot dog carts in town. Screw all those haters who want to call the street food movement so prematurely old and dead. But like when building up a new food neighborhood (Capitol Hill, Market Street in Ballard, wherever), you need a kind of critical mass to develop before they can become self-sustaining. Seattle hasn't reached that yet. But I hope we will soon.
And then, then, I want my cool little map gadget, too.