Jonathan Gold writes that right under our noses (mouths?), food became the new rock n' roll:
While nobody was paying attention, food quietly assumed the place in youth culture that used to be occupied by rock 'n' roll -- individual, fierce and intensely political, communal yet congenial to aesthetic extremes: embracing veganism or learning to butcher a cow; eating tofu or head cheese, bean sprouts or pigs' ears. I could happily go the rest of my life without hearing about another celebrity potato farmer or rock-star butcher, about 15-year-old cheddar or 150-year-old Madeira. And I am not alone.
Perhaps that explains the food truck fever in LA, which has grown into an epidemic. There are so many food trucks with Twitter feeds that online aggregation sites for tracking their locations have evolved into attempts to aggregate physically in space. Whereas once the food trucks would bring your meal to you, now we're being roped into chasing our food? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
For something unique, which Chef Roy's Korean tacos for Kogi were, a trek to seek out a food truck can be a culinary adventure. Kogi shot to fame from amidst the more workman-like pool of Mexican taco trucks which had been roaming LA for years before, but Kogi's rags-to-riches story (featured in NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and the NYTimes) and its use of Twitter to summon crowds like the PIed Piper (if you tweet it, they will come), seemed to launch a rush for curbside real estate. When I stepped out of work one afternoon to try out a grilled cheese truck that happened to stop down the street from our office, I ended up on the evening news on CBS. Construction workers who've been eating from taco trucks for years would have been appalled.
There are now trucks serving food that is both expensive and undistinguished ($9 cheesesteak?!), passing along none of the overhead savings from operating out of the back of a truck.
If a truck pulls up nearby your office and offers an alternative to the usual several lunch spots you're confined to, that's one thing, but if you hop in your car and drive out to a mobile food truck and pay premium prices to eat normal or even mediocre food out of a paper tray while standing on a street corner, you're getting robbed, both literally and figuratively.
The food truck bubble, as with others before it, will burst, taking down many a meal on wheels. If it isn't landlocked restaurants lobbying local officials to crack down on their mobile competition, it will be just plain fatigue. After all, this is a town where you can pay about $5 and get a really solid burger, fries, and drink, not to mention a table to sit at and enjoy the LA sun. Yes, In-N-Out is the Springsteen of this new rock n' roll.