A cold rain patters down on the van’s roof as Wendy in her grey apron slowly flips over a frozen patty. She squeezes an apathetic dose of mayonnaise onto a bun then hands it over to the sound of cars whizzing past. “£4.50 please, love.”
It will be a familiar memory who anyone who’s pulled over on a damp and depressing motorway for a quick, over-oily snack, but today the world of food trucks is changing. In the last few years, the humble mobile café has made a sudden leap in its evolution to offer something fresh, clever and innovative.
The food truck’s culinary shift has even reached the south of France and the beautiful vineyard of Château de Berne in Lorgues. In May, the renowned winemaker hosted the Festival Food Truck at its award-winning property.
Considering it is home to Michelin star restaurant Le Jardin de Benjamin, it was quite a sight to see a collection of trucks and vans parked in the grounds, but the rosé flowed in abundance and it turned out to be the perfect place in which to sample this popular foodie trend. Gourmet burgers, fresh and handmade pasta, Asian soups and... Beaver tails?! The eclectic event had an impressive array of food on offer; a diverse menu owing to the numerous food trucks. There were just over a dozen in total and the regeneration of the food truck was plain to see. Gone were the drab and dated vehicles serving up greasy fish and chips or beige burgers. In their place were renovated vintage wagons and quirky rigs bursting with colours and glorious smells. Visitors were asked to vote on them at the end of the day.
One red trailer, Tita from Aix-en-Provence, served ‘not only falafel’ as its slogan states, but also schnitzel, hummus, and pita sandwiches. Queues de Castors, which translates to ‘beaver tails’, was cooking up Québecois cuisine. We were unexpectedly drawn to a delicacy called poutine, which is basically cheesy chips soaked in gravy. It is the sort of snack you would expect from a bowling alley in Great Yarmouth, but was surprisingly tasty. The truck’s famous tails (which thankfully do not belong to any type of furry mammal) were great: essentially donuts squished flat into the shape of – you guessed it – a beaver tail then topped with whatever takes your fancy. The cinnamon and lemon topping was ‘damn good’.
With the spring sun setting behind the rolling vineyards, the organisers took to a podium in the middle of the pond to announce which bistro on wheels was the public favourite. Fresh pasta with a variety of sauces from the Lou Patois food truck won the visitors’ vote.
Château de Berne’s festival represented just a small contingent of an ever-growing trend. An abundance of trucks are popping up along the French Riviera where they cater to weddings and many other parties, events and roadsides. Next time you drive past one, pull over. You may be pleasantly surprised.
The next edition of Festival Food Truck will be taking place on 14th October at Château de Berne.
Entry is free!