Thursday, September 17, 2015

Do we really need the food carts coming to Chicago? I don’t think so

A part of me supports the idea of food carts being permitted to operate openly on the Chicago streets; primarily because I thought it was absurd that those food trucks are allowed but the carts aren’t.

Could become a common sight in Chicago
Yet let’s be honest; I can’t say I’m eager for the pushcarts to be cluttering up the sidewalks and other public ways. It seems like there are ample food options that it’s not like anyone is incapable of getting something quick to eat.

UNLESS THEY DON’T have money. Although that is a different issue to be argued another day.

Personally, I think one of the most overrated aspects of New York is the pushcarts peddling hot dogs. The idea that those things are particularly edible is about as ridiculous as thinking a ballpark hot dog is anything special.

Maybe not as overpriced as the $6 or so that anyone pays to eat a hot dog while watching the White Sox or Cubs blow a ballgame. But still, there are better food options.

That is something we have never experienced in Chicago, on account that the restaurants have used their political clout to keep away competition in as many forms as possible.

IT WAS A major concession when food trucks were permitted a few years ago – feeding off the business of certain hipster types who think there is something special about eating from a kitchen on wheels even though the typical greasy spoon diner probably offers much the same thing.

Now, the City Council’s License Committee spent the day Wednesday discussing the issue, then recommending its passage. The full City Council could approve a change permitting food carts as soon as next week.

One of the few pushcart-worthy items
Although I couldn’t help but notice that many of the people touting this issue were of a Latino ethnic persuasion. As though pushcarts in Chicago would be peddling tamales or elotes.

I don’t care for the latter dish (it’s corn, slathered in mayonnaise that drowns out any other spices that have been added) and realize that getting a decent tamale takes a certain level of care that someone with a pushcart isn’t going to be able to put into their product.

Paletas and tamales were the topic of conversation at the Hall
SO I’M NOT exactly anxiously awaiting the coming of the pushcart, which has existed on a limited basis. There are certain parts of Chicago where one can buy sliced fruit or other snack-type items.

Although the one thing I admit to enjoying from a pushcart is a paleta. Think of an ice cream bar – although instead of some generic chocolate or vanilla, the flavorings are more fruit-based.

Personally, I’d like it if I could occasionally enjoy a mango-flavored paleta more easily. Then again, there are the times when I’ll pick them up at the supermarket (if you shop beyond the Jewel, they’re not hard to find) so I can have them more often than when I stumble across a pushcart.

Yet I’m not so sure my sentiment is all that common.

I DID NOTICE the council is considering requirements meant to ensure that any food sold from a pushcart won’t be unsanitary. The food is to be properly packaged, and cooked in a commercial kitchen. This won’t be cooked in someone’s personal kitchen.

Or at least it’s not supposed to be. I do wonder how many people will claim that such requirements are over-burdensome and prevent “the little guy” from establishing his own business. There’s always somebody who will complain about any aspect of an issue.

Besides, a part of me recalls the story my father tells about why he never liked enchiladas – he still recalls the time as a child he saw a street vendor serving them and kept using the same plate over and over to serve each customer.

I’m not saying that’s going to be a common occurrence in Chicago if this ordinance gets approved. But I’m just not sure what this really adds to our municipal ambiance!


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