Clocks never seem to move faster when I stare at them. Everyday this summer has felt like clockwork. I wake up, go to work for eight hours, go back home, do homework, go to sleep and the cycle restarts. Today, however, is different. July 24th, 2013 is the day my old high school friends and I decided to hang out together and catch up on things. Every summer we decide on one day to go out and do something together, just the five of us. Whether it was a movie, a theme park, or a trip to the grocery store, we didn’t care as long as we were all together. This year we decided to go to a street food market called “Off the Grid.” All of us have never been to an event like this before, but many of us have seen pictures of other friends eating food at “Off the Grid” on Instagram and Facebook. “Off the Grid” is a group of mobile food businesses that get together to hold food markets at various locations. “Off the Grid” is normally held in closed off parking lots or streets to embrace the feeling of the urban cores of cities. “Off the Grid” is a public event and is held in different locations across the bay area.
After a long day at work, I rushed home and called my friends to see if they were ready. I changed into more comfortable clothes and grabbed my keys, phone, and wallet and walked out the front door. As I walked outside, a black Toyota Camry pulls up into my driveway. The driver’s side window opens up and I see the four of my friends smiling and screaming, “KEVIN!!!!!” I smile back and get into the car; ready for the adventure we were about to have. “Off the Grid” is originally located in San Francisco, but this month “Off the Grid” is located in the city of El Cerrito, which is thirty minutes away from where we live.
During the thirty-minute car ride we talked about school, work, anime, awkward stories, and most importantly, girls. But, once we arrived in the city of El Cerrito, we were speechless. A whole street was blocked off and full of people. On the curbs of the sidewalk, were food trucks lined up one after another as far as the street can go. The street of food trucks was about a mile long and at the end of the street was a crowd of people sitting in chairs listening to a band playing music on a stage.
After ten minutes of searching we finally find a parking spot and get out of the car. The entrance of the street started with a white truck with the “Off the Grid” logo. As we walked down the street, all we could see and smell was food. The aroma on the street was full of different smells from all of the food trucks put together. Having an empty stomach while walking down the street made me go crazy! The first thing we decided to do was to scout the trucks and see what types of food they had. Fifteen trucks in total occupied the street. Every single food truck on the street was different. Each truck had it’s own unique name, color, logo and food they specialize in. Korean burritos, frozen custard, falafel, Vietnamese tacos, Japanese curry, Mexican, Indian, Pilipino, you name it.
After circling the street twice, we decided to split up and get what we wanted to eat and meet back at sitting area in front of the band. My friend Nealen and I decided to get Gua Bao from a Taiwanese truck called “The Chairman.” Gua Bao is a bun sandwich and is a tasty traditional Taiwanese snack. Its every sandwich has a type of meat or vegetables sandwiched between two baked or steamed buns. Nealen and I have never tried this type of sandwich before, so we decided to wait in line at “The Chairman.” The others decided to wait in line for chicken katsu curry from a truck called “Jappa Curry.” The lines for each truck were very long. No matter which truck you wanted food from, the average wait to order food was about twenty five minutes, not to mention the time you have to wait for the food to cook. The average price at each food truck is about eight dollars, and the portions are pretty decent depending on what type of truck you go to.
After almost thirty minutes of waiting we finally got our hands on our buns. We all met back at the sitting area and compared and complained about how long we had to wait in line for our food. But, once we started eating, everyone was quiet. The amount of time of waiting in line was definitely worth it. The Gua Bao was delicious! The combination of sweet from the bun and the spiciness from the chicken and sauce really complemented each other to make the perfect sandwich. After finishing our food, all we did was talk and listen to the band play. As the sun started to go down, Christmas lights and bon fires lit up the street.
There was never a moment of silence between us. We were in our own little world, screaming and laughing at our own jokes and stories. But, we were not alone; everyone around us was having the time of their lives. I stopped for a moment and looked at all the people around me. Right then, I started to realize how much an event like this could bring people together. As the trucks packed up and we started to leave, I felt refreshed and ready to get back to work the next day and everyone else seemed to be recharged and happy too. This is just what I needed. A time to be away from all the worldly things and to be off the grid.