Scuppernong Bookshelf

Food & Trucks:
A Literary Mash-Up

In the season of eating and travel, why not?

We can tell that the food truck phenomenon has reached its zenith, because now you can buy prepackaged, microwave-ready “food truck” food — sometimes in boxes shaped like food trucks! Still, we love the very idea of food trucks, and we’re thrilled to host Vivian Howard (of the PBS show A Chef’s Life) along with her food truck here at Scuppernong on November 3 (sorry to say, but the event is already sold out).

Howard’s new book, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South (Little Brown, $40) has more than 200 recipes from Eastern North Carolina. She’s the owner of the acclaimed Chef & the Farmer restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina, and has embarked on a grand tour with her truck, serving meals along with the wisdom she’s gained from her years in the restaurant business.

“Part story, part history, part recipes, I’d like to think Deep Run Roots is much more than a cookbook,” Howard has said, as she has won hearts (and full bellies) across the Old North State, including ours.

But Howard has us thinking about food. And trucks. Is there a literary intersection? Can we find it? Without GPS?

For a kid, there is nothing cooler than hitting a food truck with Mom and Dad, and then plopping down right there on the curb to devour an overstuffed taco. Now foodies can go behind the scenes of their favorite food trucks with a fun board book: Food Trucks!: A Lift-the-Flap Meal on Wheels! (Little Simon, $7.99). Lift the flaps to see what makes the food in different trucks so yummy, from fryers to griddles, from snow cone dispensers to ice cream freezers. Like its counterparts in real life, this book is a crowd-pleaser!

For those craving Som Tam from the streets of Bangkok since vacationing in Thailand or those wanting to try their hand at authentic Jamaican jerk pork but not sure where to start, look no farther than this slim volume, The World’s Best Street Food (Lonely Planet, $14.99). Perfect for a small kitchen shelf, these recipes from street carts the world over are well-organized and easy to follow, authentic but with substitutions given for harder-to-find ingredients so that you can get started exploring the world’s best street food right in your own kitchen. This is a great gift for adventurers who delights in trying new world cuisines. 

What is the most frightening eighteen-wheeler in literary history? Undoubtedly, the truck in Richard Matheson’s short story “Duel,” which was made famous by Steven Spielberg’s early made-for-TV feature of the same name. There’s a collection of Matheson’s stories available — Duel: Terror Stories (Tor Books, $19.99), and it includes several stories adapted into some great Twilight Zone episodes. Is there food? There is a truck stop diner scene, but it won’t make you feel like settling in for a nice meal.

We confess we haven’t read Michael Perry’s Truck: A Love Story, but it’d be a shame not to mention it here. The New York Times calls it “a funny and touching account” of a love life ruined by Neil Diamond. And the Chicago Tribune, in an over-the-top food metaphor, says “Perry takes each moment, peeling it, seasoning it with rich language, and then serving it to us piping hot and fresh.” There you go. Food and Trucks.

Let’s reverse our thinking. Are there any food trucks named after novels? We hear tell of several, notably Buffalo, New York’s The Invention of Wings and a number of food trucks named after Papa’s A Moveable Feast.


November 1: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella, by Fredrik Backman. The author of A Man Called Ove offers an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories (Atria Books, $18).

November 8: J. D. Salinger: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations. Melville House Publishing does a great service with their Last Interview series, and a famous recluse like Salinger is particularly interesting (Melville House, $16.99).

November 15: Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film, by Alexandra Zapruder.  The moving, untold family story behind Abraham Zapruder’s film footage of the Kennedy assassination and its lasting impact on our world (Twelve, $27).

November 22: I’ll Take You There, by Wally Lamb. Lamb’s new novel is a radiant homage to the resiliency, strength and the power of women (Harper, $25.99).

November 29: Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis: The Vampire Chronicles ( Vampire Chronicles #12 ), by Anne Rice. Is it possible? Another? (Knopf, $28.95).  OH

This month’s Scuppernong Bookshelf was written by Brian Lampkin and Shannon Jones.

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