The Case for Food Trucks: Jonathan Gold's Impassioned Plea

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The food-truck backlash has been swift, with restaurants nationwide lobbying for legislation that will shred the tires of their mobile competitors. But food trucks and food lovers have been fighting back.

A few weeks ago, the Twitter accounts of Washington, D.C.'s rolling kitchens were ablaze with activism directing hungry followers to www.yesontitle24.com, a site urging the City Council to resist restaurant-industry attempts to keep trucks from parking near brick-and-mortar establishments. And with L.A. City Council members Tom LaBonge and Paul Koretz calling on Los Angeles, the de facto center of the food truck universe, to restrict trucks in commercial areas, famed LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold has entered the fray. Here's a new Los Angeles Times op-ed in which Gold makes what must be one of the most eloquent pleas for letting the good food roll:

It is nearly midnight, and the local businesses have long been shuttered for the night. This part of town goes to bed early. Yet late on a drizzly Tuesday, drawn by a truck serving Korean tacos, 200 people throng the sidewalk: Salvadoran kids and Mexican kids and a knot of young Koreans, tattooed art school students and clean-cut students from the local evangelical college, food-service people on their way home from work, a scattering of African Americans and at least a couple of guilty-looking dads who obsessively check in on the sleeping kids in the backs of their Volvos. It would be hard to find a crowd this mixed and this happy anywhere outside the bleachers at Dodger Stadium.

The short-rib tacos and kimchi quesadillas are tasty at Kogi -- the truck's maestro, Roy Choi, was the only Angeleno to be honored as a best new chef this year by Food & Wine magazine -- but that doesn't quite explain why fans obsessively monitor its Twitter feed, gossip about its secret menu items and stand in line for 45 minutes when they could fill up at a Jack in the Box drive-through window in one-tenth of the time.

The draw could be the communal experience, or it could be the feeling that you belong to a fraternity of the plugged-in. It could be that moment that defines street food of all types -- your food is cooked, served and consumed in what seems like a single fluid motion; desire and fulfillment becoming one. Or it could be the impulse of citizenship: This sidewalk looks a lot like Los Angeles.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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