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April 19, 2009

The day I ate my weight in incremental, sample-sized portions

Portland has pockets of parking lots where food nirvana drives up and plunks down to delight all who happen to wander by. These food carts represent a United Nations of ethnicity. The food they make is so f'ing good because they make it in tiny huts and you start to gorge yourself while still outside. Food just tastes better outside, especially if you're miraculously not suffering from the hay fever that has plagued you since middle school and you can admire the flowering trees and not eye them warily. That's just the way it is and always will be, forever and ever amen.

Yesterday the local alt weekly hosted a Food Cart Festival, where you paid a nominal $5 to have access to a cornucopia of food cart flavor in the form of bite-sized samples. I was physically unable to photograph this event as I was at all times clutching at least three tiny vessels of food. The best I can do for you is a picture I took a few weeks ago of the food cart pod near my office. I made it sepia and blurry because I was playing with my photo editor and it seemed like it was the right thing to do.

Perhaps owing to the fact that this was the unofficial kickoff to the summer festival season, where beer and food jamborees occur on a nearly weekly basis, and perhaps because it was actually not drizzling with a passion for the first time in what felt like years, every hipster in the tri-county, often with their infant Baby-Bjorned to their chest, was in attendance.* Therefore, my compatriots and I had to endure epic lines at every cart after enduring the ultra-epic, 45-minute line just to enter the hallowed grounds.

I must say that despite this, and despite the protest my poor tummy made afterward, complete with punny signs and bullhorns (foreshadowing!), it was worth it. Please spare me some bandwidth so I can tell you about what I ate.

1. Clam Chowder from Soup Cycle, which isn't really a cart because they DELIVER FOOD TO YOU ON THEIR BICYCLES. That is the Portlandiest thing possibly ever.

2. A Mexican creation that I know not the name of, but I want to say was a sopapilla, from Nueva Mexico.

3. Chicken paprikash accompanied by a slice of baguette from Tabor, a Czech cart.

4. Banana-lime smoothie and a walnut chocolate piece of heaven from Moxie Rx.

5. A chocolate shake and a green, grassy shake from Sip.

I need to pause here and tell you a little something about myself. When I was a child the only thing I would eat at restaurants was grilled cheese sandwiches. This drove Ma nuts, because, seriously, why would you spend money on something you can make so easily and cheaply at home? The answer, Ma, is that no sane person who values his or her arteries would willingly put the amount of butter on a grilled cheese sandwich that a restaurant does. That's why it tastes so ridiculously manna from heaven in a restaurant and so not whilst at home. But no restaurant grilled cheese came close to preparing me for what I sampled next.

6. Three grilled cheese variations from The Grilled Cheese Grill. The first was colby on sourdough. Pretty basic, pretty delicious. The second was swiss on rye. Interesting tang; you're onto something there.

The third needs its own paragraph. OK. Please sit down. Imagine a world where there exists two slices of cinnamon bread. Now imagine marscopone, grilled bananas and Nutella filling those two slices. Now imagine that entering your mouth. That was me at approximately 6:43 p.m. on April 18, 2009.

7. A ball of goo at Garden State. Remember how blissed out I was just a paragraph ago? This experience was the exact opposite of that. My friends and I exited the indoor portion of the fest, stumbling with rapture over what we had just tasted, and stood in the line that seemed the shortest. The guy in front of us was gushing about this cart, about how he lives near it and eats from it nearly every day, and the fact that he was still standing in line to sample from it was a testament to its awesome awesomeness. After about 10 minutes we realized the line wasn't moving. After about 20 minutes I sauntered to the front of the line to take a peek at what was going on. Evidently they had run out of food and were in the process of cooking more. After about 30 minutes we finally reached the front of the line and were given wax paper bags containing a fried ball of goo. I don't know how to identify it other than it was yellow and there was a mushy pea in the middle. Eck. I'm not even going to link to them because they were such a total letdown.

Moving on, because I clearly had not gorged myself to bursting point yet.

8. Smoked salmon ice cream from Junior Ambassadors.

9. Rosemary shortbread from Lulu's Confections, also a bike delivery establishment (see above).

10. Mint tea from Cafe Velo.

11. Another banana-lime smoothie from Moxie Rx.

12. Another grassy smoothie from Sip (I was still trying to cleanse my palate from the goo ball).

After I had reached a point where my jeans were sufficiently uncomfortable, I decided to get gone. I was pretty close to requesting that somebody roll me out of the premises. Approximately four hours later, the gurgles and pops emanating from my core alerted me to the fact that I had just partaken in some dang good eatin'.

* God bless run-on sentences you are my friend I love you OK bye.


  1. Guess whose links don't work? You don't have to guess! It's you.

  2. OK brother. I fixed them. Just for you.

  3. Love the posts, as always. Street fair season here in SF will soon be upon us and I also will be gorging myself silly on little bits of heaven.
    On a completely unrelated note - I'm kicking myself for choosing the completely unfunny nickname "Vinny" for the back of my softball jersey while completely forgetting the quirky and awesome nickname you bestowed me with! Oh the humanity.

    And blessed be run-on sentences.