Lunch Trucks

One point I did not really cover in my previous post about West Berkeley is how a walk in this part of Berkeley can really illustrate why it is not advisable to make sweeping judgments about a city or feel like one can summarize a city in a few words. Hippie. Yuppie. Foodie. Wacky. These are some of the words that have been used in the media to describe Berkeley residents. If I just went by what I read, I might believe these descriptions. But by getting out on foot I have hoped to discover for myself what it is like and share those discoveries with others. About a week ago I was waiting for a friend to take care of an errand at a West Berkeley business. I was jolted out of my thoughts by the sudden arrival of a mobile vending cart with its blaring horn. I thought to myself, I wonder if many people will really come and purchase food from the lunch truck? And sure enough, within a couple of minutes people were wandering out of nearby industrial buildings to purchase donuts, sandwiches, soft drinks, and the like.

This experience came back into my thoughts a couple of times over the past few days, and I wondered why. It is not unusual to see a lunch truck (and particularly a “taco truck”) in the Bay Area. What I finally realized is that the lunch truck is a stark contrast to the image of Berkeley being as a “gourmet mecca” or a “foodie’s paradise.” Not everyone is taking a break at lunch from their white-collar office job (or their leisure time) to dine on expensive meals of grassfed beef, organic baby greens, and local wine. Fourth Street and its upscale restaurants are just a few blocks away, but many people who work in West Berkeley probably never get over there. And, as I noted previously, many people seem to drive directly to the Fourth Street shopping area and never stray outside of those few blocks. Walking a couple blocks from here, one might see the aforementioned lunch trucks, the factories, the day laborers waiting along Hearst Ave. for work, the grocery outlet store, people rolling carts full of bottles to sell at the recycling center. There is a lot more going on in Berkeley than one can see from the window of a passing car.

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5 Comments »

  1. antitext said

    “There is a lot more going on in Berkeley than one can see from the window of a passing car.”

    well said!

  2. james said

    I think its wrong to assume that taco trucks and foodies are opposing ideas. A “Foodie” is misunderstood by the media to be a hoity toity rich persons moniker – which is absolutely does not NEED to be – there is delicious fodo out there – and VERY often – the unassuming, un-hip places places, like taco trucks, are where true Foodies know you can find the best food!

  3. Well said.

    Really, the more we walk the more we learn about our surroundings. I love it!

  4. Georgia said

    An aside?

    Edible East Bay – “Tapeo by the Bay” article
    http://www.edibleeastbay.com/pages/articles/fall2006/tapeo.htm

  5. […] Some commentary about Berkeley and Lunch Trucks. When I would go to Berkeley as a teenager, I never even saw anything outside of Telegraph and the […]

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