As they say in journalistic circles, two is a coincidence and three is a trend. Call it a hunch, but having discovered yet another street food phenomenon this week, I think this city is on to something.
I was tipped off by a post on a neighborhood-oriented blog: last weekend, something called the Magic Curry Kart had appeared on a side street near my apartment, serving up Thai curry at a “recession special” price of just $5. Curry? From a cart? And it’s magic? I had to see what this was all about. So all last week I found myself making a point of walking down 19th street, where the cart (sorry, “kart”) was supposed to have been, in the hopes of finding this elusive outpost. Alas, no dice.
Finally, another blog post appeared on Friday: the curry cart would reappear that night, from 8:30-11 p.m. Knowing that the neighborhood was abuzz with curry cart rumors, I planned to be there at 8:30 on the dot to ensure I got my share. I arrived at the appointed intersection and looked around. There was nothing. But then I peered down the dead-end of Linda Street and saw the faint glow of green and blue rope lights. Aha!
There it was: a little beat-up looking cart, cobbled together out of plywood and bike wheels. Behind it was a youngish blonde guy wearing chef’s whites who was busily getting his mise en place together. I tried to ask him a few basic questions, like who are you? Why are you doing this? What are your credentials? Unfortunately he was a little preoccupied, and instead of answering me, he simply handed me a clipboard on which to place my order. There were only three decisions to be made: chicken or tofu, green or red curry, and spicy or mild. So I filled out my request (chicken, green, and spicy) and took a seat on the sidewalk.
As I waited for the curry to get going, I watched as more and more people showed up. Perhaps it was just the feeling of being in the know, but there was a nice sense of camraderie among those of us who had made the pilgrimage. Neighbors were discovered and small talk was made. An older woman who lived around the corner brought over a bottle of wine to share simply because she thought the whole thing was so charming.
And the curry itself? The flavors were solid, and you certainly couldn’t knock it for the price. It was a cold night, though, and so I headed home to enjoy my street food indoors. As I reached the main drag, I turned around and took one last look at the rickety maroon cart with its small group of already-devoted followers. I couldn’t help but wonder what other culinary enterprises this neighborhood has in store. Another week, another dark alley, another meal. What a city.
The curry cart in action
Neighbors waiting for their curry