You hounds are a bad influence on me.
The cold summer fog was hugging the coast of Northern California. Determined to celebrate the first day of summer, I dug the Hawaiian shirt out of the closet, headed down route 1 and decided to play tourist in Monterey.
Somewhere mid-way between Watsonville and Castroville, I notice I passed a taco truck that is just pulling onto the highway. Never having had the taco truck experience, I decide that this is the time. I pull off the road, let it pass and proceed to follow it to its next stop.
We turn off of route 1 and head down a road with miles (it seemed) of strawberry fields on each side. It turns out that the taco trucks go out to the fields where the workers are picking strawberries. We never get off the paved road however. It stops. I stop. I figure I cant back down. I get out and ask the guy if I can buy a taco. He says sure, sure. Come on.
Everyone, including me, gets momentarily taken aback. It is obvious I am no figure of authority standing there surrounded by strawberry fields in my Hawaiian splendor next to my 91 Chevy Lumina. If theres a taco truck dress code, this wasnt it. So I decide to order quickly and scram.
I get a chicken taco, a ham torta and what turned out to be a pumpkin turnover. Total bill $2.50.
By this time the crew has reached the truck. They were pretty nice though there was some joking. Hey, I may not speak Spanish fluently, but I understand quite a bit.
The taco was really tasty. Two corn tortillas wrapped around a chicken and potato stew with lots of heat from the jalapeno.
The torta was just a big fluffy roll with a little mayonnaise a slice of ham and a slice of cheese. But considering the price .
The turnover was one of the best Mexican pastries I have ever had. It was a deep cinnamon color with a pop tart like crust minus the chemicals and stale taste. The spicy mashed pumpkin inside was wonderful and helped to put out the taco fire.
I wish I had the presence of mind to pay for lunch for the crew. Sort of a thank you to the guys who make it possible for me to have all those strawberry galettes in SF. But if I had been thinking clearly, I wouldnt be chasing taco trucks through strawberry fields.
I have a good friend who is from Central America and he spent the first few years in the US picking crops in the fields. He said it is hot, brutal and exhausting work. It was a cool day, but you could see these guys were tired. Hope I gave them a few moments of entertainment at the very least.
Noticed quite a few taco trucks working the fields, although every now and then Id mistake someones Winnebago for a taco truck. They look similar from the back.
After lunching with they type of people Steinbeck often wrote about, it was odd to follow that with a drive down Cannery Row, aka Fishermans Wharf south, now a place of t-shirt stores and restaurants like Bubba Gumps. A few years back I got the idea to buy a copy of Cannery Row ON Cannery Row. Nice souvenir, I thought. Not one shop sold Steinbecks books. There is however, a Steinbeck Espresso Bar.
What next? A restaurant CALLED Eats of Eden? I can see it now ... Steinbeck Country ham ... toast with Grapes of Wrath jam.