This month marks the third anniversary of Taco Trucks Columbus. We’re grateful in the extreme to all of you who have participated in this little endeavor of ours, be it as readers, truck-goers, commenters, or truck spotters.
As we look back on the past three years, we can’t help but be struck by how much something as simple as starting a blog has profoundly influenced the lives of all of the blog’s participants… often in ways we never would’ve imagined. Please allow us the indulgence of recounting:
Taco Trucks Columbus began as an OSU geography class project for Bethia. The class was Latin American Geography, and the project required research to be done within Columbus. Jim had noticed a few taco trucks around town and had been eager to explore them, so with this idea the topic was settled – Bethia was off to collect data, with Jim and I accompanying as tag-along culinary curiosity seekers.
We all enjoyed the taco truck food way more than any of us expected to, felt as though it filled a gaping hole for authentic Latino fare that was emphatically unfilled by more well known ‘Mexican’ food in Columbus, and wanted to let people know about it.
Within a few months of beginning the blog, it was clear that taco trucks captured the imagination (and taste buds) of our increasingly large readership. The interest fueled our desire to continue with the project. Meet-ups for our blog readers were thrown, funds were raised for Latino charities, and a good time sure seemed to be had by all. We routinely took journalists and the curious among our friends on impromptu tours of the trucks.
Taco trucking took us to a lot of areas in town we’d never been to before, and we couldn’t help but observe how many restaurants were in those areas. Moreover, we really couldn’t ignore the fact that few to none of them were getting any press… I mean, some of them had to be good, right? And, given their wide ethnic diversity, they had to expand upon the range of novel food offerings in town, no?
With our curiosity pointed in that direction, alt.eats.columbus (as in, alternative to what’s been covered in Columbus) was begun. Our hunch was correct – there was a lot of great immigrant kitchen food to be discovered.
Another unintended consequence of TTC was born of the popular conflation of taco trucks with food trucks in general. There was a presumption among many that we’d naturally be on top of developments among the rapidly growing non-Latino mobile food vendors. We really weren’t, at first, but once again it did seem to be something food-related that wasn’t adequately covered elsewhere.
And that’s how Street Eats Columbus came to be. That is also when, I suppose, the unifying theme of our blog work became explicit – to discover and expose, to the extent we could, everything food-related in Columbus that wasn’t widely discovered and exposed otherwise.
Which, when thought about in the abstract as such, could easily go in all sorts of different directions.
Like, for example, Columbus Food Adventures. Having discovered so many food options that we believed to be of real culinary value and interest, Bethia and I came to believe that a food tour business would give us a new means of exposing people to the restaurants, foods, and people behind them that we’d become so passionate about. And, to be perfectly honest, it provided an opportunity to make a living off of something that, up to then, had been a compensation-free endeavor. Both Taco Trucks Columbus and alt.eats.columbus have tours based upon them.
Having served just shy of 3000 tour-goers since July of 2010, we’re solidly entrenched in this new and enjoyable career of ours. As we suggested previously, we never could’ve seen that coming!
And then there’s Jim (aka CMH Gourmand) – a man who has forgotten more about Columbus’s food history than the rest of us will ever know. And, a man who, like many of us, had achieved a position of career comfort that kept the bills comfortably at bay while perhaps failing to make best use of his passions (this is certainly true with respect to his enthusiasm for all things food-related).
That is, until last October, when he signed on with the ECDI as the coordinator of their Food Fort program. Now, Jim is helping to shepherd the next generation of mobile food vendors into existence, as well as participating in the team that is building out a new incubator kitchen and providing technical assistance to new and existing food ventures. Thanks, in no small part, to Jim’s tireless efforts, we expect this to be a huge year for ‘street eats’ in Columbus!
The above amounts to a lot of reminiscing and ‘inside baseball’, but it’s a string of thoughts with a point: all of these somewhat improbable and positive developments are the result of your enthusiasm for our work, specifically starting with this blog. We thank you sincerely, we thank the all of the great folks that run the businesses that give us such great material to work with, and we look forward to sharing the upcoming taco truck season with you!
All of our best,
The Taco Trucks Columbus Team: Jim Ellison, Bethia Woolf, Andy Dehus