After a painstaking yearlong wait, food trucks will now begin to hit the actual streets (and not just private spaces) starting this February. In this way, Buenos Aires will finally be able to lay claim to a gastronomical trend that has pretty much arrived everywhere else worldwide.
Food trucks are not a new concept in most cities, but severe legislation and complex restrictions had prevented them from taking root here in Buenos Aires. Many years of contradicting and confusing laws had pretty much killed any hope of a surge in food trucks by drowning it in bureaucracy, and while you might have seen them in street food festivals, these were generally restricted to ticketed events. However, one short year ago a law was approved to allow food trucks to operate publicly outside of private events. 2018 will be the year of the food truck… and this time, we mean it.
For those of you unfamiliar with food trucks and what they do, they can be defined as a vehicle that has a facility to cook and serve any type of food (that’s to say, a truck, with food! I know, I know, mind = blown). Providing an option to eat casually, often and cheap, their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. Usually offering a selection of alternative and occasionally outlandish food, these venues (transportation methods? restaurants on the move? Whatever) have established themselves in cities around the globe as the go to spot for a working lunch or an after office snack.
Of course, (legal) food trucks didn’t arrive here lightly, and they’ve come with several bags worth of laws and restrictions. For starters, food trucks must be stationed at least 200 meters away from any fixed restaurant, bar or café, so expect food truckers to take advantage of restaurant-free green spaces. They will also be forbidden to sell alcohol (no spontaneous boozy fiestas in the park, unfortunately). Food truck owners must also apply for a permit from the Dirección General de Ordenamiento y Espacio Público del Ministerio de Ambiente y Espacio Publico de la Ciudad (now that’s a name! That would be the city’s Public Spaces Ministry, in essence), and will have to pay the grand total of AR $21.600 each year to have the privilege of offering us their delicious food – so here’s hoping that the burger business remains profitable. They will begin with eight locations around the capital with plans to roll out more post February. Expect to see food trucks popping up in places like Parque Chacabuco, Parque Avallaneda, Parque Sarmiento and Plaza Mafalda.
Since the vehicles will be parked, it was essential to count with the approval of the Secretary of Transport. In addition to this, all food trucks will have to pass rigorous hygiene checks which will have to be completed within twenty days of receiving their permission or completing their installation (at least we can say we are eating legally and cleanly!). Once vehicle and owner are registered, everything is set to go, kind of. Food trucks will have to be parked in the same registered location and will ironically now not be able to go back to private events. If the owner were to want to do both public and private events, two (yes, TWO) separate trucks would be needed for each separate use (bureaucracy, you win this one). So if you think that people just have to try your homemade pizzas, just make sure you either decide whether you’ll go public or private, or have enough dough (pun intended) to pay for two separate trucks. Vehicles will also have to come equipped with GPS so that the authorities can check if they are complying with rules, vacating the spot each evening, returning the following day, etc. Sounds intense, but hopefully not enough to deter a potentially burgeoning food truck scene.
“We hope to increase sources of employment and attend to the demands of new industries whilst catering for the needs of those commercial industries already in place” said Deputy Mayor of the City of Buenos Aires Diego Santilli. “We aim to continue to open doors to consolidate Buenos Aires as the gastronomical capital of Latin America.”
Ok so the concept is that a food truck can move when and wherever it pleases will be a little loose here, but at least we have the beginning of a new trend that should have started long before. We can’t have everything at once, right? Typically food trucks are at the forefront of those new and annoying hipster food trends that we all secretly want to try, so we can look forward to a probable emergence of gluten free and vegan food as well as reworks of old favorites such as parrilla and pizza, and if that doesn’t tickle your taste buds in anticipation then I don’t know what will.