Food Truck Dining DelightsChristine Van Dyk, Writer
Swedish food has found its home in a blue and yellow truck known as SwedeDish. Onboard this roving restaurant, bold flavors are served up daily by Viveca Averstedt, a petite blond with a flair for Scandinavian food and a peculiar fondness for Viking helmets. The popular food truck has even been featured on Eat St., a Cooking Channel program that showcases food truck vendors, such as Averstedt, which it calls “food mavericks with creative takes on mobile meals and inspiring stories to tell.”
While cooking from inside a 200-square-foot kitchen may not be the norm for most chefs, it appears to be old hat for Averstedt, a former European fuel racecar driver who developed her culinary skills at the track. With no stomach for cheap and greasy food, “Sweden’s drag queen” began creating proper meals for her pit crew from the back of her small mobile kitchen, and she’s been cooking on the streets ever since.
Today, Averstedt continues to serve up heaping portions of those native dishes. Her signature item — Thor — is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs Swedish version of a hot dog. It begins with two heaping scoops of homemade mashed potatoes, topped with real crab salad and an all-beef hotdog. Wrap it all up inside some Swedish flatbread with authentic spices and you have the truck’s No. 1 seller.
Unique flavors, like the ones found in Thor, are the reason for the success of the modern food truck. Inside these mobile kitchens, culinary creatives are whipping up dishes you may not find in traditional brick-and-mortar eateries — a godsend for workers on a job site who want more than drive-through burgers or roller food from the nearest convenience store.
In cities like Portland, OR, the scene has taken on a life of its own with more than 500 trucks peppering the urban landscape. In Austin, there are even tours to welcome visiting fleets of food trucks. The trend is led by Millennials searching for new flavors at affordable prices. Tweets and other social media help diners discover where their favorite trucks are headed to next.
If you’re new to the scene, here are a few tips to keep in mind when dipping your taste buds into the world of curbside dining:
Take A Lap — When visiting spots with multiple trucks, take a lap around before placing your order. Not only will you get a better idea of what’s available, you’ll also avoid diner’s regret by not missing out on the special dish at the back of the lot.
Get On Board — The best way to choose your meal is to look for the menu board posted on every truck. Typically, signature dishes are featured more prominently in the design. If you have questions about a dish or its ingredients, there’s no shame in asking.
Stay Healthy — Food trucks can break the calorie bank if you’re not careful. To ensure a healthy meal, look for grilled lean proteins, avoid fatty and sugar-laden condiments and go heavy on the veggies at favorites like the taco truck. If you’re still craving a sweet treat after your meal, look for Latin American ice pops. These chilly popsicles in creative flavor combinations will end your experience on a sweet note.
Eat In Season — For the freshest flavors, look for produce that is in season. Not only will you be enjoying tastes that are typically local, it’s also your best bet for an affordable meal.
Mix And Match — One of the greatest things about the food truck experience is the chance to put together a meal from a variety of exciting cooks. A little of this and a little of that is the dining approach that makes your taste buds are happy and your belly full. After all, who says you can’t enjoy Korean tacos with barbecue sliders and Mexican corn with a salted caramel cupcake?
So whether you’re grabbing lunch with the crew or headed out for a date night, consider this: The most exciting food may not be at that fancy restaurant around the corner after all. With international dishes and tastes that often defy reason, you just might find your favorite meal on the blacktop of a parking lot — and don’t be surprised if it’s served by a petite blond woman wearing a Viking helmet.