By Allison Hoffman | TabletMag.com
“It’s really good!” Danielle Galitzer, a 10th-grader from Rockville, Maryland, exclaimed over lunch today at the AIPAC conference. She had good reason to be pleasantly surprised: she was eating a plate of yellow-tinted shawarma from Park’n’Pita, a faux food truck stationed in the basement of the Washington convention center. One of her dining companions, David Fuller, noted that the plate wouldn’t stand up to anything you could get in Jerusalem—”The pita is cold,” he said, waving it damningly in the air—but never mind: it was kosher, and it was there, along with falafel, for as little as $9 a plate.
The food truck phenomenon, which started with Korean barbecue tacos in LA, is now so pervasive that AIPAC’s caterer, Connecticut-based Centerplate, built Potemkin truck facades to decorate the food stations in the vast “AIPAC Village” at the Washington Convention Center. Along with Park’n’Pita, there’s one labeled “Bento Blossom,” serving teriyaki beef and ginger chicken, and another, “Barbecue to the Rescue,” dispensing pulled beef brisket and chicken tenders. (There was, however, no redux of the short-lived Sixth & Rye truck rolled out by the Sixth & I Synagogue a couple of years ago.)
The food, prepared under the supervision of Washington’s kosher authority, the Vaad Harabonim, was the same at less-kitschy stands upstairs, but people seemed to take the trucks at face value, standing and debating which one to go to as though they were out on the street. “You should get the barbecue,” one man earnestly told a woman trying to choose where to go for lunch.
And why not? As I reported last month, there’s a dearth of kosher food in downtown Washington, and it was nice to see people taking their options seriously. Also, people were hungry: Secret Service confiscated food items like apples and oranges from delegates this morning on their way in to see Vice President Joe Biden. “I have pretzels and cherry tomatoes in my bag,” Danielle’s mother, Sharon, confided. “I think they were taking food that could be used as projectiles.”