Each week, we take a quick, cautious look at what's going on with food TV. This week, The Great Food Truck Race, a one-hour show that once saw a food truck drive past it, Sundays at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.
Part of the fun of eating at a food truck is hanging around the trucks themselves, with the oft-striking artwork lending a vaguely subversive fragrance to lunch, which lunch needs. The last thing you tend to think is, "So this is the kind of crap the art department of the Food Network comes up with?"
But that's the FIRST thing you think when watching The Great Food Truck Race, on the Food Network.
I decided to review the trucks instead of the show, because then I didn't have to review the show. But for those who do watch it, BE FORWARNED: Host Tyler Florence, whose usual hosting style is to lull people into a low-level erotic somnolence by very speaking slowly and calmly about herbs, has broken from his squeaky-clean image, I'd say about five days ago, with a grey-flecked, proto-Amish neck-beard. I know it's trite to say a beard can achieve sentience, but this thing once ate a waffle.
Mike's PizzaThis truck looks like the laminated menu of a pizza restaurant in Fresno. The only place this truck belongs is inside Terminal 1 at SFO, parked next to Max's. Do you think "Cia Sul Via" means "Our Pizza is Shit"? I don't like this truck at all.
Coast of AlabamaThis is the only picture I could find of Coast of Alabama, which sounds like a Dennis Lehane potboiler or a clothing shop in Palm Springs. There's a blue wave and the words "Coast of Atlanta" in a font that makes Old English look coy. The implication is that this truck serves seafood from the coast of Atlanta, so you would think it has no business being anywhere but the coast of Atlanta -- and yet, here it is, wheezing through Arizona, a drifter intent on poisoning people.
Nonna's KitchenetteA cartoonish prairie kitchen with the granny from Tom and Jerry on a breadboard does not scream authenticity. This belongs inside Knott's Berry Farm selling funnel cakes and Blazing Saddles Chili -- and, as such, wild horses couldn't drag me away, to my everlasting shame.
Pop-A-WaffleThis truck implies some sort of shooting of waffles, like from rotating-turret that emerges out of the top of the Pop-a-Waffle truck. Not so. It took me about three minutes of looking this picture intently before I discovered that the smudge of shitty artwork is three guys inside a roadster, and their roadster has waffle wheels, and their vehicle is doing a "pop" a wheelie.
You sure you want to eat these waffles now?
Under the CrustHey, I know, instead of just having the nice-looking circle logo and that stack of pies off to the front there that look a little bit like artist Wayne Theibaud's high-art pies -- and, man, those pies have really burrowed into my mind, they're actually quite nice -- why don't we also put THIS GIANT FREAKING KID on the truck?
Barbie BabesPicture this truck in the same spot three years hence, tires gone, sidewalk weeds crawling around it, lewd graffiti scrawled across it, with a band of Australian hippies fornicating inside, and you'll be exactly right, because the Barbie Babes got kicked off two weeks ago.
Seoul SausageRecently I saw a T-shirt that said "Keep Calm and Chive On" and it reminded me of the "Make Sausage Not War" on this truck. I couldn't tell how much I should hate both of them. I suspect a lot, but maybe not? Out of all the trucks on the show, this one would fit in the best in S.F, with the truck's shameless and terrible (or not?) appropriation of an iconic political slogan to sell us a piece of food, equating a great cultural movement with making a sausage to sell. We'll buy into it. This truck is also the equivalent of someone still going on about bacon.
Momma's Grizzly GrubWow, another truck that looks completely dated, like it was stolen from a 1995 carnival with Ben Folds Five headlining later that night. You get Tyler Florence all dolled up in a hipster proto-Amish neck-beard flecked with grey and you give him this county-fair crap? This truck has a mother bear in a dress, holding some sort of bowl full of dinner, all rendered by Papa Walnut down at the community-center art class in Gualala after his morning cartoons.
BREAKING: Mike's Pizza got kicked off the show this weekend, so, you know, that's great!!!!
Michael Leaverton has watched and made fun of a whole host of food TV shows. We used to list them all right here, but that list grew too goddamn long. Click here to check 'em out.