The food truck phenomenon has been widespread, hitting most major cities across the United States by storm. Many have developed regulations for the industry, noting the growing nature of the beast. But have you ever wondered about the back story of these foodie havens?
That’s where Heather Shouse’s new book “Food Truck: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels.” comes in. Shouse, who is based out of Chicago, traveled around the country for a year, tasting foods from all different cultures, both the good and the bad, and talking to the people behind these trucks.
Several of San Francisco’s finest are part of the book and Shouse said the unique nature of San Francisco is evident in the growing food cart movement.
“San Francisco is set apart from everywhere else because there is a much more renegade spirit when it comes to food,” she said. “If you look at other cities, they play by the rules a lot more than you guys. San Franciscans are a little more willing to go off the grid and do it and make it happen.”
Shouse had a difficult task in differentiating one truck from another in each market. While she couldn’t feature each and every unique cart, there were a few that stood out to her.
“There was a criteria. It had to have a product that was delicious. It had to be unique. I didn’t want to duplicate,” said Shouse. “And they had to have a good story. There are a lot of longer profiles of people who I followed. They have a very interesting story about how they started their business.”
Included in the San Francisco portion of the book were longer features on Spencer on the Go, The RoliRoti truck, Curry Up Now, Sam’s Chowdermobile and Tanguito. But one of the neat aspects is the sidebars, which highlight alternative options, either carts that might not have wheels (like Pizza Hacker in SF) or those like the Magic Curry Kart, whose owner Brian Kimball has as Shouse puts it, “a completely unique view of life and street food.”
“(People) drawing from their own personal experience to find that one thing that truly moves them and that they care about,” Shouse said. “It’s so cool that they can find that one thing and kick ass at it. And this model (in San Francisco) supports it.”
Along with profiles of some of the best food trucks around the country, Shouse also mixes in recipes from the chefs themselves, revealing many secrets of the trade. The book is a wonderful read and great companion guide for those who love to travel and take their food adventures off the beaten path.