Dishes 152 -153: Hummus and falafel sandwich at 17th St. Falafel, 17th St. between Market and Ludlow
Hot sausage at Hot Dog Truck, SW corner of 17th and Market
I have a natural suspicion of grease trucks. In many areas of New York, as you probably know, they are repugnant. The burnt stench of pretzel or hot dogs can carry for blocks, turning your stomach and making you wonder how they stay in business. And as far as cleanliness goes- let’s just say I’ve heard horrible things. From people who know. Like pretzels being shoveled straight off a dirty concrete floor. I’m not saying, but—I don’t touch that stuff.
So despite the change in aroma from the burnt garbage of my youth to a pleasant, roasting, beefy scent in this fair city, despite the gleaming metal of the trucks and the charming faces of their industrious proprietors, I hesitated to purchase food prepared in a motor vehicle. You never know! Friends and coworkers coaxed me into it on several occasions, but I warn the youth: show more strength than me and hold out for food cooked under a permanent ceiling!
Until a fateful Saturday several weeks ago: MM and I were walking to lunch, absolutely famished and having underestimated the length of our stroll. Even the soapy scent of laundry venting from a nearby apartment smelled appetizing. With six blocks left to go, we passed the first grease truck, and our noses twitched at the mouthwatering aroma of roasting sausages, pungent fat and juices dripping into the grill, sizzling; two stomachs let out two angry roars, FOOD! Stalwart, we patted them into submission and continued on to a meal eaten sitting down, on china, with forks and knives. There would be none of that street food today.
But the stomachs had already made their proclamation, and rebellion was imminent.
With the end of this challenge in sight and a nip in the air, the pressure increased to hit up the most portable eateries before they might relocate to a garage for the winter. Yesterday, I figured a leisurely constitutional up 17th St. would be fair—if the trucks happened to be where they were rumored to be, I would eat; otherwise, salad at Duane Morris, per usual. There it was, 17th St. Falafel, in it’s sparkling metal glory, and the customers in line looked jovial. My stomach growled approvingly. As Yoshi prepped the crispy falafel and rich hummus, he gave me advice to grease up my bike properly, and my stomach pointed out how clean the truck was to my brain, who agreed begrudgingly.
So today I repeated the experiment. If the hot dog stand was there, good, if it wasn’t, no biggie. And there it was. Hot sausage!, my stomach ordered, joyously, with mustard and kraut! from the grandmotherly woman and her young partner behind the counter. Three dollars, a spic and span truck, and the heady scent of broiling meat—my stomach grumbled happily in anticipation of a quick meal I no longer had to resist.