The annual Brussels Food Truck Festival started just last year and is already considered one of the largest food truck events in all of Europe. Taking place over three days, the 2015 edition was part of Brussels’ Iris Festival which featured a range of free activities in the centre of Brussels – performances, workshops, concerts, and more – to showcase the city’s culture and creativity.
To ensure festival goers were not revelling on empty stomachs, a one kilometre trail from the Boulevard de l’Impératrice to the Mont des Arts was formed by over 80 food trucks offering a myriad of street foods – Belgian, Dutch, French and Luxembourgish as well as options from more distant cuisines such as Mexican, Lebanese, Japanese and Thai.
I couldnt decide what I was most impressed by – the variety of foods on offer, or the food trucks themselves. Colorful and creative, the food trucks were cleverly conceived in a range of styles – from classic and quaint to retro and quirky. I was particularly impressed by De Pieper Mobiel’s distinct design: timber panels assembled in the shape of a giant potato, paying homage to the key ingredient in the sole item on this food truck’s menu: patatas bravas. The potatoes were being cut into bite-sized cubes right in front of us, then fried and placed in deep bowls ready to be topped with a spicy home-made tomato and garlic mayonnaise-based sauce. I’ll take this crunchy potato snack over Belgian frites any day!
Faced by rows of food trucks as far as the eye could see, I was in street food heaven. My plans to systematically peruse the stalls so as to make an informed and considered plan of attack were quickly thwarted as sights of the food truck delights on offer made my mouth water and my belly rumble, leaving little chance of resistance as we passed some tempting choices.
I first succumbed to El Camion Cantina Mexicana where I waited in line for twenty minutes for a beef burrito with the lot. When I told the server (who was dressed as a masked Mexican wrestler) that I wanted my burrito hot, he told me I had the following options: hot, very hot or ‘very hot packed with hot’. With a simple nod my choice was made. It was just as well Bec had grabbed a cuberdon milkshake from a neighboring stall – it saved my tastebuds from the fiery burrito mouthfuls.
Another food truck I just could not skip was De Pieper Mobiel, which was exclusively serving patatas bravas. I figured since they only had to focus on making one dish, they must do it well. I wasn’t wrong. Patatas bravas has to be my all-time favorite Spanish dish. I’ve even tried my hand at making my own bravas sauce on a number of occasions, and can appreciate how difficult it is to make a good one. Pieper Mobiel’s homemade sauce was rich and creamy, and was a perfect complement to the crunch of the fresh fried potatoes. As I walked away from the giant potato truck, I couldnt help but wish I could have my very food truck to dish out my own version of patatas bravas…