San Francisco has been over run with food truck culture just like many other cities. This time the food trucks are different than they used to be. When I was younger [not a kid, but this lasted into my early thirties] there weren’t really any food trucks other than the taco trucks you would see usually of the El Tonayense variety. These early food trucks were real working man’s kind of places to grab a bite to eat. Now the food trucks have slicked themselves up to cater to the foodistas around San Francisco.
The taco trucks were great when you were on a budget because I could get a burrito I could never finish and a coke for about $4.50. Now the food trucks are pushing up their prices selling gourmet, artisanal and organic foods to the foodistas who have lots of extra cash and in many cases don’t realize that they’re eating the food that the working middle class eats for around four times the price.
I have seen the trucks all over the city and I find it hard to pay $6-$8 for some variation of a grilled cheese sandwich plus the soda is separate from that price. My wife and I were watching The Great Food Truck Race where one truck was selling their hamburgers for $10 and lost due to lack of income and afterwards they were talking that they could have stayed in the game if they charged $12 per burger. I don’t know about you, but I can grill up a might fine hamburger at home with a side of fries and a coke for about $2. I also know of many foodista sit down places where for my $12 I get to have a seat at a nice table and I get the fries and coke for my $12.
I have this little hand gesture I make where I hold my hands flat in front of me to represent the amount I’d have to pay to purchase what they’re selling at cheaper price. Let’s say I pay $10 for lunch for two at In-N-Out burger. Now if I go to a food truck the same thing would cost me closer to $30, so I raise one hand up to show the price difference and ask, for 3x the price is it 3x as good? Honestly, I can’t and don’t think many people can taste organic, artisanal or gourmet in most cases. I can taste a well made hamburger, but gourmet and artisanal are words that are just used for packaging in my mind. I hand made some silver dollar pancakes for my daughter because I thought it was cheaper than buying the pre-made ones for her. Mine ended up being tossed aside for the mass produced perfectly round pancakes. Oh well, at least I and my friends and family know I’m a good cook.
I understand the whole idea of the experience of eating at a food truck gathering. Off the Grid is a great example of pulling in people who have a large choice of food to choose from. It strikes me though as kind of like a food court that’s outdoors though. I’ve eaten food from several of the food trucks, but while they were good in most cases I’ve been able to get just as good from other places that are cheaper where I can sit down inside.
I don’t think San Francisco is the best place for food trucks because we don’t have the weather to support them every day unlike say, San Diego where the weather forecast is always, nice. We’re an expensive city to live in and the costs get passed on to the people. If anyone disagrees with me please post a comment because I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong. I’d like to see what I’m missing here. Please note that I haven’t mentioned anyone by name as I don’t want to upset any of the food truck owners, yet I do find it interesting that when I visit their websites they never list prices. Most restaurants do list prices and I just think the old rule of, if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it shouldn’t apply to a truck were I have to sit outside in a windy area to eat my food that’s gotten cold half way through it.
Someone once said you’re a real San Franciscan when you put on your winter coat to go out and BBQ in July. People who live here understand that because the weather throws a few monkey wrenches into being able to properly BBQ here depending on what part of the city you live in.
When I did my brief stint in the Mission we generally had good weather most of the year so BBQing wasn’t too difficult. When you live near the coast in the Sunset or Richmond districts things get a little more challenging. We get cold and wind here. I skipped the corned beef for St. Patrick’s day and decided to grill some steaks. It was a very windy day so I knew I had to start the grill early. We’ve got a propane grill so it needs some time to warm up. It took about a half hour before the grill got up to 400°. I figured I’d be going a little longer for the steaks and I opened the grill and dropped the steaks on it and the thermometer now said it was 300°. So much for the sear and grill lines.
In warmer weather like we get in our Indian summer later in the year I can usually get the grill up to over 500° in under 15 minutes. That’s when cooking outdoors is fun. Prior to the propane grill I remember that El Niño year late in the 90’s when I grilled on a hot New Year’s Eve when it hit 80°. My little Smokey Joe charcoal grill got so hot that I singed the hair on my arm. The steaks ended up cooking too hot and where blackened on the outside while raw on the inside.
These are things you need to understand when you grill in the outside lands. If it’s windy or cold your grill won’t get as hot and on a hot day it’s better to indirectly grill unless you have a propane grill that lets you control the heat. I’ve been grilling for years and have learned how to take the weather into effect even mildly enjoying grilling in a heavy fog where the water sizzles on the grill [which also cools the top area creating a circular effect which cools your grill.
So take these tips into account if you’re out in the windier areas. We unfortunately have a gorgeous view because we’re up on a hill, but that also puts us into a direct line of attack from the salt air off the beach so it can get very windy. I’ve even had my propane grill blown over with the wheels locked.
Welcome to the 4th of July weekend. A day where we all drink up and under the influence of alcohol light explosive devices, or in many of our cases the safe and sane fireworks of the Red Devil fireworks company.
The funny thing about this is that San Francisco ever since I can remember has outlawed the sale of even the safe and sane fireworks on top of the unsafe and insane fireworks such as the firecrackers and M80, roman candles, bottle rockets, skyrockets, you know…the fun stuff.
If you wanted to get the legal fireworks you had to go to Daly City at first and now Pacifica to get them. These were always cities with open spaces that were overgrown with weeds that dried out in the summer unlike San Francisco which had very few spaces with dry weeds that could catch fire.
As a kid I remember my parents always telling me how a bottle rocket that flew up several hundred feet in the air and fell down through the air could land on your roof and set your house on fire. Unfortunately for her no one’s house ever caught fire in this fashion and none of the sparks from the large blasts at Crissy Field ever blew down on anyone’s house to burn it down either.
This got me thinking last night. Why is it that areas with the largest amount burnable material are allowed to sell fireworks, but large cities surrounded by asphalt that doesn’t burn aren’t? Is it a deal that the fireworks companies cut with big cities to get paid off to not sell there and give a kickback to the suburbs?
I honestly don’t know, but at least have some fun this weekend and blow sh*t up.