Monday, May 19, 2008

Taco Truck

About once a week, my job takes me to a construction site (and that is about all I will ever blog about my job. There are too many cautionary tales to do otherwise). In case you are not aware, many construction industry workers, particularly in the “unskilled” trades such as blocklaying, drywall hanging, roofing, and especially asbestos abatement work, are Hispanic. I saw this not to start a discussion about immigration policy and the lack thereof. I have plenty of friends and family who make Lou Dobbs look like Cesar Chavez and I spend a great deal of time biting my tongue around them. I mention it because the employment trend has made my lunch hour on the jobsite much more delicious.

Everyday there are two taco trucks that visit the job site. You can get a burger or a ham sandwich, but more importantly, you can get a variety of traditional Mexican dishes. The tacos are the flour soft tortillas with cilantro and peppers instead of cheese and sour cream. But I like the quesadillas. For five bucks I can get two chicken quesadillas and a soda. That doesn’t even pay for the gas it takes me to drive to any nearby fast-food places.

And when I say ‘soda’ I mean not just Coke or Mountain Dew, I can get the obscure fruit sodas that are usually only found in specialty grocery stores. Champagne cola has little in common with standard American colas except for the carbonation. These are lighter, sweeter, and nearly clear. And we all know I love obscure soda flavors.

The way the taco truck works is that you order at the window to the two ladies working the grille. Then you go pay a guy that is standing at a small TV tray sized folding table. In just a few minutes, a piping hot fresh quesadilla is waiting.

One day as I was walking over to pay with my food, a rather redneck looking construction worker noticed my food and asked how it was. I said “delicious”.

He walked up to the window and said “Uno case-a-diya poy-yo” in a thick southern accent.

The money-taking guy kind of chuckled and asked me “He did say ‘pollo’ didn’t he?”

I smiled back and said “He sure did.”

And this is how cross-cultural understanding operates. Over food. Besides, quesadillas de pollo SON deliciosas.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Place all tirades about how this little vignette is emblematic of how the country is destroying itself here.


Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, they're trying to ban taco trucks in East LA, of all places. Madness!,1,4570192.story

I know you're trying to keep things on the down low, but I'd love to know where this mysterious construction site is. Is it in Baltimore City, or anywhere easy to get to from Baltimore City? E-mail me! ( One of the things I miss most having left California is good cheap-o Mexican food from little corner burrito stands. (Does your taco truck sell Mexican Coca-Cola -- real sugar, glass bottles?) I was excited when Chipotle opened up the street from me, that's how sad it's gotten. Though apparently there are some pretty good hole-in-the-wall places popping up in East Baltimore now.

Anonymous said...

God, I miss real Mexican food. I lived my first 35 years in SoCal. Even in Oregon, there were decent Mexican places. But the Germans just don't quite get the concept. Maybe if I lived in the American zone or Berlin. Neither of the Mexican places in the town near us quite has what it takes. A new place just opened, so we'll have to give them a try, but I'm not holding my breath. There's just nothing like one of those little hole-in-the-wall places with a handful of tables and the vague sense that you're better off not knowing what the kitchen looks like.

yellojkt said...

Closer to Baltimore, in Elkridge on Route 1 just south of 103 on the west side of the road is VERY authentic Mexican little restaurant. Great meals for under $8 a person.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I just want to say this. I want a taco truck!

Cham said...

So that is where those bastard taco trucks disappear to during the weekday day. When I am down on Broadway I want a taco and those guys never seem to be around. I always thought the trucks were on wheels in order to make a quick getaway if the local health inspector or INS agent came calling. Now I see the trucks are mobile in order to spread their joy.

Anonymous said...

Demetrios, I lived in Berlin in 2002 and while there were all sorts of great non-German restaurants there (seriously, some of the best Indian and Ethiopian food I've had anywhere) the one Mexican restaurant I went to was appalling. I think they used jarred spaghetti sauce where a person might be expecting salsa.

Mooselet said...

Demetrios, the Aussies don't understand real Mexican food either. One of the biggest complaints of the American expat community is a lack of good Mexican restaurants. There are a couple of decent ones in Brisbane, but on the 'authentic' scale they're low. Any port in a storm. We're reduced to buying El Paso products and going at it ourselves. Which is sad. Indian and Thai food is far more readily available, however.

I was speaking with a guy from England the other night about a get together a bunch of English expats had, where they watched Monty Python and had "traditional" English food... curry! After I got done laughing I realized that much the same can be said about Mexican food and American culture.