Thursday, November 25, 2010

Food: A City's Most Popular New Cuisine

I live in one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the world. I love Toronto for many many reasons. Not least of which is the choice of food.

I remember going to one of the first Ethiopian restaurants in the city. Now there is many of them and people debate which one is best and which one is most authentic. A couple of years ago I stumbled across a collection of Tibetan restaurants right around the corner from an established Polish neighbourhood. It can be a tough decision when figuring out what type of cuisine to have when you go out to eat. Though people have figured out ways to solve this problem.

But that's just restaurants. One type of dining that hasn't caught on in Toronto (yet) is food trucks. Trucks that pull up and start serving a variety of food to whomever is passing by. Sure we have ice cream trucks and sure we have some street vendors for hotdogs and the trucks that cater to construction sites and factories but food trucks haven't hit here yet. I'm not sure whether it's because of by-laws in place or lack of licenses or just a lack of people wanting to start up food trucks as a way to make some money.

A long time ago (as in less than a decade) if you ran a food truck your best bet to build a repeat customer base was to park in the same places day after day. Find a good spot with lots of repeat customers and you might build a customer base. Now (as in the last few years) technology has come to the rescue. People will track down particular food trucks no matter where they are. And the food trucks have responded by making sure their customers know where they are.

Which leads to sites like Find LA Food Trucks (and their blog) which collects the twitter feeds of the trucks around Los Angeles (when technical issues don't derail them temporarily).

Yes... twitter feeds. The most common technology for trucks to update their current location and status has become twitter. It somehow seems appropriate that one can follow one's favourite truck.

However food trucks, with or without twitter and other technology, can cause problems. Washington D.C. is working out the problems and issues with having flocks of new food trucks appear on the roads. Inside D.C.'s Food-Truck Wars gives the background and the current situation in a city where food trucks have started to become popular. I just wonder if, or when, Toronto will have to start dealing with the same issues.

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