Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sharing the Love

The streets of Manhattan are crowded with gourmet food trucks. Cupcakes, Belgian waffles, artisanal ice cream, even schnitzel—whatever your craving, chances are you can get it from a mobile vendor. Not surprisingly, many of the old-school kebab and hot dog vendors feel these newcomers are encroaching on their territory. But instead of engaging in turf wars, these nouveau vendeurs should look past the East River. Some trucks do pull over in Brooklyn, but where are the fancy food trucks in Queens?

I don't wish to appear ungrateful for the food vendors we do have. Adeet and I still enjoy weekly dinners from Sammy's gyro cart, and Roosevelt Avenue is lined with tempting taco and torta stands. But why should Manhattanites get all the haute dogs?

Recently La Gamin truck decided to share the love at the Jackson Heights Greenmarket. Le Gamin serves classic bistro fare—merguez sandwiches, croque monsieurs, pommes frites, and crepes, bien sur. As Adeet and I read the menu, we felt we'd won the food truck lottery since French cuisine is missing from our international neighborhood's dining scene.

Then a woman in front of us started meddling with the French truck mojo. She demanded to know why they were serving Nutella crepes. Didn't they know Nutella contained hydrogenated oils, a clear violation of NYC's trans fat ban? The cheery woman taking orders smiled, "Why, no, I didn't know that." The anti-Nutella woman continued to protest and finally the French chef suavely held aloft a jar of Nutella and read the label. "No, no trans fat in Nutella," he declared.

Adeet and I had grown nervous during this exchange. What if the woman annoyed the chef so much he decided he didn't want to come back to Jackson Heights? However, he appeared more amused than irked and even teased the woman, who had blushingly backed down.

We gratefully placed our order, relieved that the truck hadn't sped off in a Gallic huff, crushing our dreams of Sunday mornings filled with crepes and cafe au lait. Adeet got the merguez sandwich—spicy lamb sausage, melted Swiss cheese, and onions on a baguette. I had the lamb dog, the same merguez sausage and onions, but served on a hot dog bun. We split an order of pommes frites. We ate at the truck's narrow metal counter and savored every bite of our lunch. The sausage had the right amount of spice, enough to please our well-seasoned palates, but not so much as to make my soon-to-be-born baby kick in protest. The frites were cooked perfectly, and it distressed me that I couldn't finish them all.

I wanted a crepe but didn't have room, so we walked across the street to the Greenmarket and shopped for dinner. After buying peaches, cherries, lettuce, and quiche, we decided we had worked off enough calories for dessert. We returned to the truck and ordered a lemon and sugar crepe, but not before telling the chef how glad we are the truck came to Jackson Heights. We don't want to go back to our crepeless days!

The thin crepe, dusted with powdered sugar, didn't disappoint. But next time I'm getting mine with Nutella.

Le Gamin food truck
Jackson Heights Greenmarket • 34th Avenue and 78th Street
Sundays, from around 9:30 am to 4:00 pm

photos by Adeet Deshmukh

1 comment:

qsoz said...

This is exciting news!