Thursday, July 7, 2011

Food Trucks of the San Fernando Valley


For several weeks now, David Lassen has been using Facebook to tempt several of his friends to try fine dining at one of Southern California's latest crazes, Gourmet Food Trucks.

Let me digress for a moment . . .

Back in the Summer of 1967, at the age of 20, I took my first real job working at a company, Pioneer Flintkote, in South Central Los Angeles, yes, THE South Central.

I got the job through the University of Washington's football program and it paid me the then princely sum of about $2.25/hour, if my memory serves me correctly! I found out later that that was the top end of the salary scale in the factory, so this was BIG TIME STUFF!!!

I was the banbury operator for this factory that produced lineoleum flooring tiles 24 hours a day. The banbury was a combination mixer and oven that baked the oil, powder and dye necessary to make the finest kitchen and bathroom tiling that money could buy. My work station placed me on a catwalk about two stories high, directly over the banbury. After introducing a new batch of ingredients to the banbury, my job entailed watching a temperature gauge for about five minutes. At that point the internal temperature of the banbury would reach 550ºF/288ºC, my signal to open up the banbury, dropping the now dough like paste onto a conveyor belt and starting the process all over again.

It was at this point that I discovered that hot air rises.

That Summer was interesting because I was used as a replacement banbury operator for the three weather beaten men who had done this job for decades I suspected. They would take their vacation time one after the other leaving me with two or three weeks working their normal shifts.

The Day Shift was 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., DOUBLY HOT!

The Swing Shift put me to work from 4:00 p.m. to Midnight, great because it got a bit cooler as the shift went along.

Finally, their was the dreaded Graveyard Shift, Midnight to 8:00 a.m. First there was the whole issue of driving into South Central at that time of night, then came zero social time as, Dracula-like, I would sleep during the day, work out in the evening and then could not go out at night for very long, if at all, with Laurie or friends because I needed to get ready to go to work.

Now the reason I bring all of this up is that in the middle of each shift, there would be a "lunch" break and some enterprising individual would show up at the right time on the street just outside of our plant's entrance with a food van, a.k.a., a "Roach Coach."

The menu was always simple . . . sodas, chips, candy and a myriad of pre-packaged cheese and luncheon meat sandwiches. Sometimes you had to wonder how old were the items for sale, was green really a normal color for the contents of the sandwich in question?

Which brings us forward in time 44 years to tonight and the Food Trucks of the San Fernando Valley. Supposedly, these are definitely not your good old "Roach Coaches" of days gone by, but I would have to place "my own fingers in the wounds" before I would believe it.

By listening to Monsieur Lassen and the Food Trucks of the San Fernando Valley Facebook page, I found myself driving down to the Valley after practice tonight to the community of Granada Hills. Facebook claimed that I would find about 25 Gourmet Food Trucks parked in a two block segment of Chatsworth Street between Zelzah and White Oak.

Off I went.

Eureka!!!

I found it easily with the aid of Garmin, bright, clean, shiny and cooking! No pre-packaged main dishes for these chefs.

The only drawback was that even at 7:00 p.m. it was still 92ºF/34ºC in the Valley! Not as hot as a banbury, but still . . .

Choices, lots of delicious choices

Go with some organized plan or just nosh?

Nosh!!!

First Course

A plain and simple choice . . . a small but tasty beef soft shell taco from the Caridad Cuisine truck.

I LOVE Paris!

I wonder what this truck is selling?

NUTELLA Crepes!!!

That is actually mine being made in the background to the left.

Hey, I felt that I might pass out in the opressive heat, so I had to be sure to eat my extremely rich dessert early in the odyssey.

I made it but was still hungry.

AMERICANA, yet again

Aromas, I'm a sucker for aromas.

Not fully sated, I opted for the simplicity of fine cheddar cheese grilled to perfection on two thick slices of French bread.

Awesome but still . . .

I had to have one of these

Take one large round loaf of sourdough bread.

Cut it in half from top to bottom.

Scoop most of the soft inner core.

Refill the cavity with spicey, cheesy Sloppy Joe meat and sauce.

Wow.

Even Pellegrino sodas from Italia!

How much more Gourmet can you get?

I only tasted the wares from a mere four of the 25 trucks at this location. Even I have my limits.

I think that the heat was getting to me.

Still, David had mentioned that Food Trucks also gathered every Wednesday night in the parking lot at Taft H.S.

What the Hell!!!

It was only about ten miles out of my way, so I stopped by Taft to check it out.

After all, it is a fundraiser for the school.

Perhaps the money goes into their athletic recruiting budget.

Interesting

There were "only" seven trucks at Taft this evening.

It was still sultry. I was unusually full and the thought of nachos and/or mashed potatoes didn't sit well with me.

Red Velvet Pancakes???

Because I was being done in by a combination of an Amazon River Basin-like feeding frenzie mentality, heat and early stages of what I contrued to be my first ever hypoglycemic attack, I had failed to look at my IPhone for guidance.

After deciding on passing up on all of the trucks at Taft, I arrived back in Camarillo to find that David Lassen had sent me a simple message: "Leave room for the Red Velvet pancakes at The Buttermilk Truck."

I blew it tonight, but another safari into the San Fernando Valley is definitely in order!

Bon Appetit!



I also finished my fifth book of my Summer reading series, "Going. Going, Gone" by David L. Gersh. I am still on pace to finish at least one book a week this Summer.

This one started very slowly but finished briskly. Stolen art, Nazis, World War II, beautiful women, locations in Paris, London and New York City . . . of course it finished with a flourish!

Still I would clearly not place this anywhere near the top of my reading list. Laurie bought it at Border's "Going Out of Business" sale. She paid $2 I believe for it. At that price it, it was worth reading.

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