Tampa Food Truck Rally
Let’s agree on one thing up front: An authentic Cuban sandwich does not – should never – have lettuce. Now, let’s proceed.
Tampa’s first food truck rally was held Saturday in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The event was sponsored by Tasting Tampa and 352 Media Group and held in the parking lot of Hyde Park Presbyterian Church. It certainly looked like a success and I understand more rallies are to follow in the near future. There looked to be 10 vendors and the parking lot was packed solid with truck foodies.
I expected a crowd – food trucks are all the rage these days – but I’m guessing even the most optimistic did not expect the crowd that showed up. The St. Petersburg Times estimated the turnout at 3,000. I have to give credit to the vendors, who all seemed to remain cheerful through a hot and hectic day.
As for my only serious complaint – Ms. Finding Tampa and I made lunch of a Cuban sandwich from one of the vendors, I won’t say which. I desperately wanted to like the food. The operators were friendly, the prices were reasonable, and I believe they were using top-notch ingredients. But the sandwich was cold, despite being prepared and pressed on the spot. (In fairness, at least one of the recipes below specifies that Cuban sandwiches can be served cold, but I don’t think that was the intention here.) Again, it was a very busy day, the cold sandwich was not really a big deal.
More important, there was shredded lettuce on the sandwich. Some folks prefer lettuce on their sandwiches, but keep it off my Cuban. I had never even had a Cuban sandwich until I moved to Florida, but I’ve come to love this gastronomic icon. If you doubt me on the lettuce, here are a few recipes to steer you in the right direction:
So, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed, even though I support the rally as a creative way to encourage local business.
On the other hand, I’m as intrigued by the food truck movement as everyone else. Maybe that’s just the ticket for culinary entrepreneurs struggling to raise capital in these trying times. With social media available to provide low-cost, on-demand marketing – nearly every truck seemed to promote Facebook and Twitter accounts, at a minimum – maybe food trucks are a means of providing affordable fare in a format that is easily changed. (Sort of a culinary Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.)
And we were encouraged by the delicious Cap’n Brownie we purchased from the Sinful Pleasure truck – a brownie topped with Reese Cups and Cap’n Crunch cereal.
So despite a little grumbling, I liked the food truck rally and I’m glad to know another is scheduled for October.
But trust me: No lettuce on the Cubans.