Recently half of the FreshRev team made a trip back to her (my) homeland, the good ol’ USofA. While not explicitly there to research street food and food trucks– when in Rome, as they say… I ate ALL the food. Besides gaining a stone, much was acquired in the way of inspiration and knowledge.
We have the blessing (and, to some extent, the curse) to be a part of the infancy stage of the food truck scene here in Edinburgh. Unlike in the States, where each city has its own established street food culture, Scotland is still trying to find its identity when it comes to supplying alternative quality dining options. The method and manner of delivering this commodity vary from city to city, depending on where you are in America, but the end result is accessible and delicious food that satisfies cravings, and inevitably, the soul.
Los Angeles is the arguably the originator of the mobile catering unit fad. King Taco claims to have started the first food truck in 1974 selling tacos out of a refurbished ice cream truck. 34 years later, the city of Angels boasts the most famous food truck, Kogi BBQ and has seen its chef skyrocket to stardom.
If you want to eat from one of these venues, you will have to log on to social media. The trucks Tweet their selected curbside locations for lunch and/or dinner, stick around for a few hours and then take off to the next spot. The queues can already be hours long before the truck even arrives, but clearly the wait is worth it.
- Austin, TX
Year-round sunshine and the sprawling layout of the city lends itself to al fresco and alternative dining experiences. TexMex influences reign supreme, exemplified by the ubiquitous breakfast taco with its American fillings of scrambled eggs and fried potatoes inside a tortilla, with the traditional fixings of salsa and Mexican spices.
You’ll find the majority of trucks pseudo-permanently parked behind pubs, in beautifully decorated courtyards, like Patrizi’s behind the Vortex Theatre. It’s a mutually beneficially relationship as the bars themselves don’t have kitchens, the trucks don’t have to travel around to different locations, and the eaters can enjoy the amenities of a full service bar as they eat their food in fun and unique atmospheres.
When people question how food trucks operate within the distinctive climate that is Scotland, I immediately counteract with conjured images of snowplows and iced windscreens; regular fixtures in this Midwestern city. Chicago has always been on the forefront of fast food trends from their deep-dish pizzas to Chicago Dogs (hold the red sauce if you know what’s good for you).
Like Scotland, Chicago can be quite strict on where you are and are not allowed to pull up the truck and serve food. Therefore, they have a handful of select locations around the city where vendors vie for spots on a first-come-first-serve basis and inform their eaters of their whereabouts via social media.
This city loves ale almost as much as we do! As such, they have 7.3 breweries per capita. However, many local governments require establishments serving alcohol to also provide food options, which can create a problem for smaller breweries.
The solution is another symbiotic relationship as the brewers tempt punters with brewery tours and then encourage them to stick around and sample their libations in tasting rooms with the promise of delicious and ever changing food on their premises- the food trucks even differ on a daily basis. Unlike Edinburgh, many of the breweries fall within the city centre and don’t require a taxi or risk of drink driving to get there.
Where does this leave street food in Edinburgh and beyond? The safest bet is to assume we’ll follow London’s example of dedicated street food markets, selected events and pop-ups. Due to space limitations from which the United States does not suffer, we are required to be a bit more creative with our delivery methods here in Scotland, especially as we aren’t able to simply pull up on the curb and sell to public. Luckily, a few such spots have started popping up around our country that are solely dedicated to street food and food trucks: the Pitt Market and Fountainbridge Fridays here in Edinburgh and strEAT’s endeavours in Glasgow. Plus, similar to Denver, we do have breweries that put on festivals, such as Stewart Brewing and Knops at Hops in the Garden with top notch street food on offer. If this is any indication of things to come, Scotland has a promising road of delectable delicacies in its future.