Living in Los Angeles most of my life, I’ve seen my own share of food trucks growing up and I have seen the evolution of food trucks growing. Tonight I ended up going to a typical Mexican food truck down near Vernon and Normandy for dinner with my mother. My mom loves tacos, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to blog about my food truck experience and spend time with my mother. When we got there, we saw the menu in between the two open windows, where one window you order and the other you get your food, and I ended up getting two tacos Al Pastor and two Asadas and my mom got the same thing but with “Chile” on the side (a spicy side dish for your tacos). The drinks were available right on the bottom with ice covering them and I got water while my mother got a soda and we paid for them at the first window. The atmosphere of the truck was somewhat and the neighborhood surrounding it was a bit dingy. The taco truck was white with neon lights laminating the menu and the area surrounding it. Despite the surroundings, the staff attending us was very friendly and they attended us with smiles. Our wait time for the food was around 5 minutes and we got our food at the second window. The food was overall ok, not the best tacos I have eaten. The truck experience itself was not that out of the ordinary experience of any food truck I have been to, since I ended up going to a more traditional version of a food truck that is more aimed to working people in the Latino community. Despite this being a typical experience, it was still worth the try on our experimentation on trying out a new food truck with my mother.
Just got off from Japanese class, I rushed to the intersection of McClintock and Jeffereson to see if there is any food truck around so I can get something for lunch. There was only Armando’s truck so I had no choice but approached to it. An old lady dragging a luggage got there a few seconds earlier than I did. She quickly ordered the Tuna Melt and asked the owner where they are going to be over the summer, and was pretty satisfied hearing from the man in the truck saying they will be at the same spot.
The Armando offers a wide variety of choices, sandwichs, burgers, burritos and there is also a special menu dedicated to breakfast. While I was still contemplating of what I should get on the side, a young man wearing an orange t-shirt quickly came over and ordered a turkey burger. He seemed to be pretty close with the owner, they exchanged a few words and he stepped aside to let the owner take my order. I ordered the Tuna Melt and asked if I can pay by debit card, the man answered yes with a friendly smile and took out his iphone for me to sign. “That is some pretty cool Iphone App..” I said to myself and noticed that there are two ladies working on the food on the left side of the truck.
As I turned away to wait for my food, the owner told the ladies making food my order in Spanish. I started to observe the people waiting as I was bored standing there. The old lady was waiting by the window and looked a little bit aggitated, and the guy wearing orange shirt yawned quite a few times during his wait. The food was prepared in a little bit and they took their food and walked away quickly. My sandwich took some time and another black guy wearing glasses came and ordered a burrito. He and the other two customers who just left seemed to be pretty familiar with the Armando’s truck, since they all placed their orders without even looking at the menu. As I just thought of this, “Tuna Melt!” my food was ready and I grabbed it, took a peek at my food wrap ped in the paper bag and walked away.
I tried to write in time sequence and describe actions of the people around me and how I thought and felt about their actions. I did take some notes while waiting for the food in order to get more details down, and try to re-visualize what I see in the process of writing this blog.
I certainly did not know that there were food trucks dedicated to juice, so when I found one on line that happened to be near my house I decided to go there. The name of the truck is Mambo Juice truck. On an empty parking lot I found the truck along with two other food trucks. The juice food truck was the third to the right. There was music playing that I did not recognize but it seemed like rock. I approached the truck and started looking at the menu. Another person was looking at it too. There were smoothies and juices with different ingredients each. “Are you waiting for me? Please go ahead” said the man in front of me. “No, I am still looking at the menu, thanks” I replied. He ordered a Mambo mango. “Do you want a smoothie?” asked the cashier. “No, I am in the mood for a juice. What do you recommend?”I asked. “Well, people have been ordering Mambo Mango”; “Then, I’ll have that one.” “ Have you eaten, yet? “The cashier asked me glancing at the other trucks. “Umm, yes. Are you guys always here?” “No, this is for a fund raiser, so it is only for today. There was even a live band until a while ago;” “Ah, I missed it.” Then, the people preparing the juices called for the number previous to mine, but no one answered. I turned and saw the guy in a group and called him over. Soon my own juice was ready. It was really delicious. They were already leaving but I still saw many people around the other trucks.
I tried to describe going to a food truck as I experienced it because I like this type of narration. Also, because it shows what was right in front of me, as any customer would experience it. I was not taking notes at the time, but I did right after.
After choosing the NomNomTruck from a list of nearby LA food trucks I had found on-line, we set off toward La Crescenta. It was a bright green truck parked along the road near a small shopping center. It was 7 oclock, right around dinner time, and the sidewalk surrounding the truck was crowded with waiting customers. As we approached the NomNomTruck from a nearby parking lot, I could see a line of 5 people 3 yards away from the ordering window. 2 people had formed a separate line closer to the ordering window. Between these two lines, I determined that the longer one further away from the truck was for those awaiting their ordered meals and the shorter one was for ordering. I quickly queued up in the shorter one. While awaiting my turn, I observed the people who had already ordered and were waiting for their food. 4 of them, 2 separate couples, began to chat idly amongst each other about their decision to try the food truck. One of the gentleman exclaimed that he had originally planned to go out for sushi, but happened upon the NomNomTruck and changed his mind. All 4 expressed their excitement for trying something new. These people, with little else in common aside from their dinner choice that night, chose to start up a conversation during their wait. The NomNomTruck served as not only a provider of food, but also as a community for its diners.
As we approached the front of the line, we already had our orders prepared. It seemed that customers in line chose their food beforehand so as to avoid holding up the line. I too had my order memorized: Grilled port banh mi without jalepenos. The food truck offered Vietnamese influenced foods with banh mi (Vietnamese style sandwiches) and tacos. After ordering and paying, we also joined the second line which had formed a few yards back to await our food.
I chose to write my ethnographic account under the themes of space and community. I at first intended to focus on the relationship of space between the two lines that had formed near the truck, but after overhearing the exchanges between some members in line, I felt inclined to include that it in my account.