1. Opinion

Ruth: Food truck wars, the stuff of mediocrity

Vendors serve a “Flicks and Food Trucks” crowd in Tampa. The city is hoping to strip Miami of a Guinness World Record for biggest food truck rally next month at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
Vendors serve a “Flicks and Food Trucks” crowd in Tampa. The city is hoping to strip Miami of a Guinness World Record for biggest food truck rally next month at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
Published Jul. 22, 2013

Perhaps the hand-wringing, the bitterness and the not-too-thinly veiled hints of recrimination are so intense because the stakes are so very low.

Once again, the spoilsports of Miami are whining in their cafe con leche over an effort by some Tampa hustlers to deprive our friends to the south of yet another civic honor.

If all goes according to plan, which might be regarded as the Operation Overlord of pulled pork, come next month a hundred food trucks will assemble at the Florida State Fairgrounds in an effort to set a new Guinness World Records mark for the biggest assemblage of al fresco fender dining in the history of the world.

Should this food court on wheels succeed, Tampa will surpass Miami, the current record holder with a lousy, stinking, mere 62 trucks parked together all at once in the pursuit of liberty, justice and gastrointestinal adventure.

As major record-setting accomplishments go, this barely ranks right up there with the world's largest hair ball, or the ability to consume 69 hot dogs in one sitting.

I've never understood the whole food truck culture. Not once have I ever turned to the Bombshell of the Balkans and said: "You know, sweetums, I could really go for some heart attack on a stick served out of a truck. Now that's living."

But apparently some folks think buying their vittles from a former Federal Express van and retiring to a park bench to spill it all over themselves represents a gastronomic tour de force.

And now the World's Largest Food Truck Rally, scheduled Aug. 31 at the Florida State Fairgrounds, holds the promise of being one the least important events to occur in the Tampa Bay area.

Or so it would seem until the Miamians started to get their arteries clogged over the prospect Tampa would wrest the vaunted title of having the most food trucks in one spot in the history of the universe. This led to copious amounts of pouting.

As the Tampa Bay Times' Laura Reiley noted, the food truck kingpins of Miami are none too pleased to have a completely meaningless record ripped from their grease-stained fingers. "The (Miami) promoters are very cutthroat," Jeremy Gomez, one of the Tampa organizers of the incredibly insignificant food truck event, told Reiley. "And they've been telling their trucks that if they come to our event they won't use them anymore. They don't want us to take their record."

Threats? You'll never drive a food truck in this town again? Really?

Who knew there was a fish taco food truck cartel?

It's understandable why the Miami folks might be miffed that Tampa would try to steal the Nobel Prize of Deep Fried Pretzels from their clutches.

Tampa has been known for decades as the cigar capital of the free world. And just last year, the Big Guava officially designated itself as the premier Cuban sandwich destination when the City Council passed a resolution declaring its "Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich."

It must be true if the Tampa City Council says so.

The Miami residents were not amused, even though the Cuban sandwich had been a fixture on Tampa palates since José Marti was in knickers and all that is now Miami was known for was malaria — although it was, to be fair, indeed Guinness World Record-worthy malaria.

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And now this. Tampa was plotting to dragoon Miami's food truck record as if this was the last remaining point of community pride, which it might very well be.

Of course, we know where this is going — a food truck arms race.

It won't be long after the 100-truck march takes the title from Miami that Miami responds by announcing plans for a 500-truck rally. Tampa will counter with 1,000 food trucks, only to be rebuffed when Miami smacks back with 1,500 food trucks — all of them selling fake Cuban sandwiches.

Secretary of State John Kerry will be called upon to mediate an end to the hoagie hostilities, but his credentials will be called into question when everyone is reminded that as a presidential candidate he once ordered a Philly steak sandwich with Swiss cheese.

And thus a new Guinness low water mark will be set: the stupidest world record ever. Hold the mayo.


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