“They pop up everywhere, in front of schools, selling to kids.” No, not the illegal casitas that the L.A. Weekly warns us are endangering prostitute-loving gambling addicts and F13-plagued residential communities, but street food. The LAPD and Department of Public Health appear to be on the march again, this time rallying against bacon-wrapped hot dogs with a fully-stocked quiver of hyperbole. “These are frightening and startling situations that exist here,” an LAPD Senior Lead Officer says during KABC’s assist to this assault on imported flavors.
The health crusaders insist the food comes from unknown origins and is improperly stored, then prepared at stands without proper sanitation facilities, possibly even in “a public restroom.” The story remind us, “There are inherently more dangers in a cart or truck serving food than a restaurant,” and encourages everyone to narc on food vendors without licenses.
Not to cry conspiracy, but the recent food truck busts in Mid-Wilshire spurred by restaurant owners, shakedowns on Echo Park swap meets, and a cry from Santa Monica restaurants to push food trucks away makes it appear that owners have some heavy connections hearing their complaints and getting their backs.
An abundance of street food, much like homemade cheese to Oaxacans and rice noodles to Asian expats, is a defining personality trait of our city. We’re still stymied as to who has taken ill at the bite of a curbside churro or bacon-wrapped wiener lately. The city is again trying to put a loose genie back into its bottle in the hopes of saving us from ourselves and visibly supporting a boost to local businesses. But with an estimated 15,000 unlicensed vendors and only ten county health inspectors, the side of cheap, free-floating food still has a huge head-start.