In most big cities, there’s a proliferation of food trucks parked on downtown streets and serving hordes of lunchtime diners. And a few are pushing the boundaries of what’s on the menu.
Spend any length of time working as a journalist in any meat industry and whether at trade shows, food fairs or even on assignment, you’ll be regularly challenged by various purveyors and marketers to “Try some of this!”
“This” being an edible sample of what are euphemistically called “exotic species:” Kangaroo, camel, ostrich, bear, alligator, rabbit, goat, rattlesnake, not to mention game meats that nobody even bothers to labels as exotic anymore — bison, elk, quail and venison.
Over the years, I’ve eaten sparrow in Italy, tripe in France, emu Down Under and even monkey in China — at least I was guessing that a sample from some small, simian-like carcass hanging in a wet-market stall in Guangzhou was some species of primate.
Most of that dining was done on a dare, rather than from desire. But now there’s a mini-movement emerging right here at home that is both fascinating and potentially powerful for the conventional meat producers.
It’s happening as a result of the growing popularity of food trucks. Spend any time in the downtown area in most larger U.S. cities, and you’ll find designated blocks close to the office towers full of food trucks lined up shoulder to shoulder at lunch time. It’s easy to see why those operators are thriving: No bricks-and-mortar buildings. No parking lots. No big back-end kitchens. No wait to be seated.
Just a side street packed bumper-to-bumper with mini-serving stalls on wheels. And just by strolling along, you can choose from Cajun, Caribbean or Chinese. Tacos, tapas or Thai food.
The choices are usually impressive, and the quality more than acceptable for a get-it-to-go luncheon entrée.
A gourmet appeal
Now, an interesting addition to the typical culinary choices has arrived: Exotic meats. As is true in the traditional restaurant business, a few food trucks are capitalizing on the appeal of game meats from species more commonly considered wildlife, rather than food animals.
One such newcomer to the scene is Tyrone Green, president and purveyor-in-chief of a food truck business called Dark Side of the Moo. He was featured recently in a CNBC online business profile, probably because he parks his truck each day outside CNBC headquarters in Englewood, N,J., which for those who know their way around northern New Jersey’s labyrinthine suburbs, is a short drive from Manhattan across the GW Bridge, then north for about 20 minutes (or more, depending on traffic problems in Fort Lee).