This weekend Brussels plays host to the first ever Brussels Food Truck Festival. Around forty trucks from across Belgium, with a few from France and the Netherlands thrown in to make up the numbers, lined up along the street connecting the cathedral to Central Station. This caught my eye because I’d experienced the huge and varied food truck scene during a few days in Portland, Oregon a little while ago, and appreciated the idea of a selection of street food carts all specialising in a few offerings each.
Obviously this being Brussels, and being the first event of its kind, things were a little different. Firstly, the weather. The festival started on the Friday night and continues until Sunday night. I was only available on Saturday lunchtime, which was a shame as Friday night was beautiful with clear blue skies. Saturday, of course, it rained persistently. Sometimes drizzle, sometimes a downpour, but consistently soggy. I arrived with the three kids in tow and walked the length of the festival to get an idea of what was on offer.
The recurrent theme was burgers. Lots of different kinds of “gastronomic” burgers (tuna, duck), but I was hoping for something a little more exotic. Some seafood, some quiches, fries, and this van which wins the award for most eye-catching design. I assume it’s modeled after a potato, as the only food they offer is patatas bravas.
I saw to the kids first, and they chose “New York-style” grilled chicken with rice and yoghurt sauce. from a Ghent-based truck. I tried a mouthful and it was pretty tasty.
But I had my eye on the Mexican truck El camión (who are actually based in Lille) a little farther along. I hadn’t had a decent burrito since we went to California in 2011 and the weather had put me in a comfort food mood. The burrista (that’s what burrito-makers are called, right?) wore a Mexican wrestling mask to maintain an air of mystery and his scarf held a variety of hot sauces. The guy in front of me in the queue was a Californian visiting Belgium and France and craving a taste of home, and he seemed happy with his burrito.
Sauced, although not the hottest one on offer.
The final product:
Talking to a couple of the truck owners it seemed they’d done pretty well the previous night when it was dry. Some patrons I saw filling in forms with their ratings for the different trucks. At the end of the festival the votes will be tallied and awards presented to the most popular trucks. I hope they manage to make this an annual event and that they have better luck with the weather next time. Maybe even in time this would whet people’s appetite for a more permanent food truck scene in Belgium?