I love food trucks.
One of my favorite movies is “Chef,” a funny and endearing tale of a gifted but temperamental chef, Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) who, after being fired from an upscale restaurant in California, embarks upon a cross-country jaunt across the southern United States in a food truck specializing in “Cubanos,” a sandwich generally made with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban bread.
Not a sandwich, I admit, for observant Muslims, but certainly it was, cinematically, watching Casper put it together, mouth-watering to watch.
I love food trucks — especially those that serve foreign foods.
While it’s true that I occasionally succumb to kosher hot dogs with sauerkraut or warm pretzels with mustard, there’s something magical about finding wonderful food coming out of seemingly ordinary motor vehicles, especially for someone like myself who’s drawn to street food when I travel.
When I lived in New York street-side choices were endless. While I had favorites, I’d often look for new tastes and experiences. Years ago, in Boston, I used to patronize a food truck near Northeastern University that specialized in falafel sandwiches drenched in tahini. It was a draw for both low-budget students and those in search of an authentic taste experience.
Indeed, I’m so drawn to food trucks that recently, when I spotted the Tastes of Anatolia food truck (specializing in Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine) on Exeter’s Lincoln Street, I actually waited in my car about 30 minutes until the owner of the truck (which was unattended and locked) returned.
Sadly, and to my disappointment as it was actually mealtime, she told me she was just in town to visit friends and wasn’t able to serve me dinner.
For Turkish food, I’d have to drive down to Boston.
So last week, when one of Donald Trump’s chief advisors on Hispanic affairs, “Latinos for Trump” cofounder Marco Gutierrez, warned that if Hillary Clinton was elected there would be “a taco truck on every corner,” I was elated.
And I was sure that many Americans felt as I did — I believed he had just assured a Clinton landslide!
How wonderful, I thought. Gutierrez’s prophecy would save me having to drive to Exeter’s Las Olas Taqueria on a regular basis where, because it’s so successful, I often have to wait in a long line to get my taco or tostada fix.
It’s true, I agree, that a culinary invasion of food trucks might challenge some Taco Bell franchises. However, it would also introduce many other Americans not only to tacos and burritos, but more. It might also serve as an economic boost to food truck manufacturers and food equipment and suppliers.
And Americans who believe that small business owners are our economy’s real drivers — literally and figuratively — could not be other than pleased.
Why not take it further?
Empower the 10,000 Syrians refugees that America’s recently admitted to start a fleet of falafel and shawarma trucks. Not only would America be eating better, but we would be introducing new refugees to the quintessential America entrepreneurial dream of owning one’s own business — and paying taxes — perhaps even recouping some of the resettlement costs that way.
Locally, New Hampshirites could launch a fleet that would challenge our palates with delicacies made by our Sudanese, Armenian, Congolese, Bhutanese, Bosnian and other neighbors.
Imagine the possibilities; perhaps school children could get vouchers so they could eat from food trucks visiting their campuses — not only would they eat well but they could practice a foreign language as they order and get a taste of cultures other than their own.
That’s a voucher program I’d go for.
Imagine campuses infused with the aromas of exotic spices, imagine children exposed to the rhythms of Spanish, Arabic, Greek, Indian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Urdu, and other languages and cuisines.
Imagine going home and Mama asks, “What’s that smell you brought home today?” and a child answers “cumin” or when Daddy asks “What’d you have for lunch this week?” a child answers: “Tacos, chicken Marsala, pad Thai, shawarma, mac ‘n’ cheese.”
Imagine then, that when those students read about America being a “melting pot,” that they will have experienced, firsthand, what that means — and that the result will be a more educated and global citizenry, less bias, greater tax revenues, healthier diets, longer lives, shorter food waits.
Thank you, Marco Gutierrez, I’m hungry already.
NB “Chef” is available for viewing online — I liked it enough to watch it twice. Donald Trump and Marco Gutierrez are available on Fox and Breitbart — I’ve been watching them far too much. As for me — until taco food trucks show up in Exeter — you can, at least once a week, find me at Las Olas Taqueria in Exeter.