2005 to present
These pictures offer a comparison of taco stands and taquerias in Mexico City, taco trucks in Los Angeles and throughout the United States plus their South American cousins; the choripan stand, that sells a sausage sandwich found everywhere in Argentina and the carrito, a stamped metal, trapezoidal confabulation offering hamburgers, hot dogs, more choripan and featuring the national Uruguayan nosh, the chivito.
These pictures describe important differences between these providers of Latin American quick food that go well beyond their visual particulars and divergent menus. Argentine choripan places, Mexican taquerias, L.A.taco trucks and Uruguayan carritos cater to all comers, regardless of class, race or economic status. There are taco trucks in the hippest confines of Silver Lake and along Museum Row in Los Angeles. Taquerias and stands are everywhere in the D.F. and open until the wee hours. I counted at least ten carritos within a mile and a half on the fashionable Avenida de 18 de Julio in the center of Montevideo. La Costanera on the long riverfront ramblas of Buenos Aires has more than a hundred carts and stands that grill pungent chorizo soon to be slathered with piquant chimichuri.
The men and women who staff and own the California trucks have to deal with a strictly enforced mobility from an Anglo-controlled officialdom. To be successful their locations must be consistent; their arrival at the appointed spot timed to the minute. But they are also the gastronomic undead,rushing back to their parking lot crypts at the end of each evening to safely store the vehicles of their economic dreams.
In Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina the carritos, corner shops and stands are every bit as ubiquitous as the trucks in LA and elsewhere but they are far more firmly embedded in the topography with flat tires, structures then sunk into concrete or perched atop some sort of base in the middle of a business block. The D.F. has few carts, and fewer trucks; generally the taco establishments are permanent.
Their California cousins set up generators or pay for power drawn from an adjacent business while the energy needs of the carritos and stands are sustained by a subversive network of power cords, lines and wires run up lampposts and strung across streets.