I admire the experiential approach to learning and have been thinking about all the ways people absorb the world around them-visually, through sound, reading, smells, tastes, touch. As readers of this blog know, I am starting a food truck and am curious about how a food truck can be more approachable to a wider audience. What draws people in? What holds people back from trying a food truck? I’m interested in the idea of having hands on immersive experiences that complement one’s experience of eating at the truck.
One of the reasons I fell in love with cooking is because it is both universal, eating is something we all have to do, and incredibly diverse, in terms of flavors, techniques and what it says about culture. It’s a universally shared routine. I’ve farmed food, I’ve sold produce at markets, and I’ve taught cooking and gardening classes to youth. I thought a food truck could be a good tool for urban farms and community spaces, with ideas like cooking demos, take away recipes, and sampling and sharing of food knowledge, that could contribute to a shared experience in those communal spaces. I don’t like the idea of going into a community assuming there’s one type of food to fit one need- my approach with the food truck is more give and take, more flexibility and mobility, with rotating specials and the ability to move if needed.
In addition I want to share the business platform, I’d love for guest chefs to come in, and show off. I’d love to find other ways that a shop on wheels can benefit more folks in Baltimore.
When I was selling produce at markets my boss always said “we have to make food sexy”. Since then I’ve been obsessed with wearing food (a fried egg necklace, fruit prints etc.)… Wanting to talk about food with more people, influenced me to want to wear more food, which influenced an interest in making food accessories/art.
My mom’s an artists, as are lots of my close friends (although, honestly, I want to say everyone’s an artist in their own right). I’m curious to see if the truck platform will allow for a mobile, flexible art display (the Taharka Bros have done such an amazing job with a mobile book store). I see art as a way to start a conversation, to teach, and to share ideas and love across cultures; all things I see food doing too. I see art as another universal language, and I’d like to find ways the truck can help start a conversation.
Here are some ways that I envision artists being involved with the truck:
1) Small concessions:
I’m working on creating a small bookshelf or display area for bits of art and local products. I don’t imagine carrying anything of greater value than, let’s say, $30. So, things that could easily pop up and be sold (and help spread the word about where more of your creations can be found). Some ideas that could fit in a small display area could be:
- paper cuts
- books (poetry, zines and more!)
- small wood works
- small jewelry wares
- soaps/body care products
- pottery mugs or plant hangers
- small fabric wares
- small paper-maché things
The list should go on, and I’m excited to see where it will go.
2) A rotating tarot-styled menu:
I am designing a tangible menu that will be laminated and held together on a ring. The idea is that, while you can certainly see what is for sale on the chalkboard menu or ask the folks in the truck, this will give another tangible way to interact. There are several inspirations around this. To start, I’ve always loved menus at diners that are covered in photographs and drawings and too much text. So in part, this is my homage to an old school classic.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how people display their work. D. Watkins split the Beast Side into side a and side b like an old cassette tape. Anthony Bourdain split his book up into courses. And while my menu is not a book, I did want it to be a little different than your everyday menu.
Lastly I have been thinking a lot about the erasure of history through “fusion” foods. Because I learned how to cook mostly on farms, and in a Greek and a Mexican kitchen, I’ve been using those influences in creating my menu items. I’m wanting to create playful names for each item, but would like to include more text to explain where my influence is coming from and give credit where credit is due.
Here’s a visual of what I mean: I thought that this could be a way to rope local artists in.
The idea would be that you would take an hour to draw an image that is evoked by the food you are tasting or the name of the food. We could either sell versions of the drawings/prints as seasonal truck postcards in order to pay you for your work, or I would pay you for the hour of work and for your art. I am currently selling prints with the intention of covering the cost to pay artists for their seasonal menu drawings. To learn more about the prints, please click here.
If you would like to donate the first drawing that would be wonderful, although ideally I want to be making it mutually beneficial. If you want to wait a season to see how well it works, and join for the “eat and crEATe” party for our fall menu, that’s completely understandable!
Between breakfast, lunch and dinner I will need 10 drawings. Because I encourage you to draw based on what you’re tasting there will be a crEATe party on April 23rd at 6:30pm (location TBD, but somewhere in Baltimore). If you’re interested in selling your goods, drawing a menu item, or participating in a discussion about how art can be incorporated on the food truck, please message me. This will also be a wonderful opportunity for me to get feedback on my menu items!
Wilde Thyme is only going to get better with communal input and creativity. I want to thank Angela Carroll for inspiring the event to eat and create, it’s ideas like these that are going to help Wilde Thyme flourish.
It’s also her beautiful art that encourages me to keep going on the daily: