Okay, it's time for a frank admission: I've been going through painful withdrawals. Food withdrawals. It's not the food itself but the lack of street grubbin' that's got me down. I do not in fact want to spend all of my meals, not eaten at home, being served and tended to. There's nothing finer than a stand, a window, or a blanket with a pile of food being slopped up for the hungry passerby. This much I know. With this truism, I just about had a heart attack when I was taken to the corner of 12th and Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon.
Here's a street corner like many others in America: passed by many cars and unsafe for the lowly pedestrian. Except: In only a little more than a year since my last visit, a healthy group of street stalls have developed. If I was so naive, I might declare that there was in fact a god. Ha.
Amongst the Mexican, falafel, and cigarette! stalls, there exists a Fry Cart owned by a friend of a friend. Who knew?
Potato Champion serves up Belgian style fries for the oh so sophisticated Portlanders. Really: I can't remember what the fries tasted like in Belgium, but the beer sure was good. My good friend and sometimes Potato Champion fry cook stand in told me I would love it. He was right of course.
I let B do the ordering as I was too flabbergasted to behold such a sight.
We started with some fries. Delicious. Made more so by all the sauces, which if I'm not mistaken, we got more than the usual serving. I think we had the rosemary truffle ketchup, horseradish ketchup, and Dijon ketchup. Wow. But this wasn't all...
We also had the Poutine: fries, cheddar cheese curds, and gravy. Oh my. Even though I drank a couple of beers before this refueling stop of sorts, I assure you it would be good before beer as well.
As America begins its unpleasant yet not unexpected decline, at least we can hope for a revival and possibly a new golden age of street food as costs raise, real wages stagnate, and people turn to the streets for some sweet relief. Or maybe: Portland, Oregon is an anomaly where many people can and will eat better than you or I in our larger and more diverse cities.