On Saturday, The Post and Courier and Charleston Scene present the Charleston Food Truck Rodeo, featuring 16 food trucks and vendors. We’re proud that a city the size of Charleston supports such a large number. Just a few years back, there were only the small ethnic trucks that park near North Charleston worksites.
If you go
What: The Post and Courier’s Charleston Food Truck RodeoWhen: 3-10 p.m. SaturdayWhere: The Post and Courier parking lot, King and Columbus streetsDetails: 16 food trucks and vendors. Free admission. Live music. Food, wine and beer available for purchase.
An understanding of the food truck phenomenon can be found in John T. Edge’s latest work, “The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings From America’s Best Restaurants on Wheels.” An author, New York Times columnist and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, Edge was the right man to address the subject. His works include “Hamburgers & Fries: An American Story” and “Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South.”
And so he goes, traveling across the country to 12 cities, large ones like Portland, Ore., where the truck food scene is firmly established, and smaller ones, like Minneapolis, where it “shows promise.”
In Portland, Edge reports, there are numerous pods, “groupings of carts that function like food courts,” both downtown and in the suburbs. They flourish in large part because the city’s planning commission found that “food carts have a positive impact on street vitality and neighborhood life and advance public values, including community connectedness and distinctiveness, equity and access, and sustainability.’”
From this avant-garde West Coast city to ours, food trucks are experiencing amazing growth because they answer our need for fast food, and they answer it in a far more “honest and delicious” way.
“Much is outsider food, immigrant food,” Edge writes, from the old guard, who are the inspiration for the “New Guard of vendors ... the insurgent band of young cooks who now stand at the helm of stepside vans,” and cook as they might inside a restaurant. It is hip, and perhaps all they could afford, or were willing to wait for. Either way, we benefit.
Author, chef and photographer Angie Mosier worked with Edge to share 150 signature food truck recipes and take the photographs in the book. She adapted the recipes for the home cook. Once you realize that many have only a handful of ingredients, and consider how little time and space there is in a food truck for preparation, you’ll find some quite handy.
You can sit back and just enjoy Edge’s journey as an armchair traveler, but with the chapters divided into culinary classifications, such as Fries & Pies, Waffles & Their Kin, and Sandwich Up, it’s mighty easy to zoom in on what you’re hungry for, be it Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Pies, Bacon Waffles, or Sloppy Jerk Pork Sandwiches (Paperback. Workman Publishing. $18.95).