From food carts to mobile kitchens

Food trucks might not be a big part of Durangoís food scene yet, but as our community opens its doors to wider choices in housing and land use, it stands to reason that restrictions will also lighten up for more small food producers to sell their goods outside of brick and mortar venues.

Durango entrepreneurs ready to be innovative and with their fingers on the pulse of foodies could emerge from bad economic times and still land on their feet, just as so many ethnic food producers and chefs in New York, Boston, Portland, Chicago and a host of smaller communities have done.

Food truck choices, while fast, go beyond the expected. Just about anything that can go on a plate can go on a stick, including wide ranges of barbecue, grilled or roasted entrees. Soups, stews and chili have long been served from windowed trucks, as have salads and frozen treats.

This weekís Food feature is about a pastry chef who believes thereís a market for her confections, but sheís not ready to set up shop in a permanent location.

What questions should this evolution in food service opportunities raise for you?

Is it fair to those who invest in brick-and-mortar food service operations to compete with mobiles that can serve the same food and charge much less? Or does the public now require a wide range of access and delivery options?

How much are consumers really willing to pay for service, atmosphere and ambiance?

Should beer and wine be served from mobile trucks?

Some argue that lack of storage and preparation space is the motivator that keeps mobile foods fresh. Will this raise the bar for brick-and-mortar food providers?

Social media drives crowds to food truck routes. Menu selections and locations are tweeted. The operative word is fast, even if the food is not.

Is sitting down to a multi-course meal going to become a thing celebrated by families maybe a half dozen times a year?

Iíve been hearing from lots of young families lately who are in the throes of remodeling or building new homes. Most agree that a dining room is pretty much a waste of space, a dinosaur that serves no purpose.

Why have a dining room, they ask?

(Was I the last bride on the planet to register for china, crystal and silver?)

This much I know: Sitting down to a meal is indeed still a celebration and location matters.

Iím fortunate that I have family and friends who appreciate the time it takes to celebrate every step of the time-consuming commitment to good food and around-the-table bitching Ė no, I mean conversation.

I like the idea of food trucks because they appeal to my impulsive evil twin who eats whatever and whenever the urge surfaces. But Iím not ready to throw in the towel.

Iím going to pledge to put flowers on the table and use cloth napkins more often. Iíve just about worn the silver plate off the silver and Iíve chipped more crystal than anyone I know, but so what?

Some things remain true even when progress and a changing economy drive change Ė dress up and chances are youíll like yourself more. (Or at least you might behave.)

Enjoy the treats from a food truck. But also take the time to celebrate in a brick-and-mortar kitchen or dining room, even if itís your own.