Saturday, June 5, 2010


Busy life style that characterizes the urban life in many metros around the world leaves very little time for consumers to go to decent restaurants to enjoy good foods under relaxing atmosphere. The concept of fast foods emerged as a response to such a situation and food chains, many of them operating in many countries offer a limited option under their menu mainly for dousing the belly fire during lunch time. It is another matter that they progressively enriched their products with salt, fat and sugar making many of them literally health hazards from the view point of nutritionists. In a move to beat the overwhelming hold of these fast food chains, mobile food centers and door delivery services came into vogue, capturing a significant market share in a relatively short time. Latest to arrive is the "food truck" concept which is catching up in many cities because of the wider choice and better quality offered by them mainly for the office goers.

"The food truck, of course, has had a long if not always proud history. It began life as a noontime fixture at construction sites, where it would herald its arrival by blasting out the melody to "La Cucaracha," a signal that the roach coach had arrived with its inventory of undrinkable coffee, stale pastries and mystery-meat sandwiches. The trucks found in today's mobile food courts are a far cry from that. Such gathering places are marked by anywhere from a half-dozen to as many as two dozen rolling food kitchens that congregate for lunch or dinner, then drive away once everyone is full. They first made their appearance in downtown Portland, Ore., several years ago, says Brett Burmeister, managing editor of "It began as basically an alternative to the delis in the basements of the corporate buildings downtown," which he said seemed to specialize in selling bad baloney sandwiches.Instead, the food trucks offered everything from Thai to Chinese to African and Bosnian food. "The stuff you'd find at the nice restaurants, that you would spend $25 for, you could get for $5," Burmeister said. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles high-end taco trucks were clustering up and down busy streets, forming impromptu food courts of their own and encouraging people to follow them on Twitter to learn where they would be".

Food kiosks and push carts vending different food preparations from road sides during a few hours in the evening are common sight to see in most of the urban areas in India. They come under the broad category of "street vending" and periodic attempts are made by food scientists and the food safety authorities to modernize this section of catering. But the food truck concept, as reported above has not made its appearance yet in India in any significant way. Imagine the convenience offered by such "mobile" restaurants serving a variety of Indian, Chinese and Mexican foods at affordable cost to office-going community in the busy areas near corporate offices, government offices, railway and bus stations, court premises, etc especially during the lunch time. Of course these "vendors" may temporarily affect free flow of traffic for some time, especially in a country where side walks are disappearing fast and urban space is astronomically costly. From social point of view governments must support such entrepreneurial talents by providing common designated areas in towns and cities for the mobile "canteens" to serve the community honorably.


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