Kings of the road

Keep on Food Truckin'
By SI ROSENBAUM  |  August 16, 2010

MEALS ON WHEELS: More than a dozen vendors and hundreds of eager gourmands (including Mayor Tom Menino, lower left) turned out for the first Boston Food Truck Festival.

On Sunday, Maurice "Big Moe" Hill dished out barbecue from the cramped, hot kitchen of his M&M Ribs truck. His face shone with sweat under his white cloth cap; his T-shirt, spattered with sauce, bore the words EAT WELL! STAY FIT! DIE ANYWAY!

It was noon and he was already out of ribs. Outside, a line stretched the length of a city block. "Didn't know it would be this big," Hill muttered.

The first Boston Food Truck Festival, organized by Boston-based Citysearch national community manager Christine Liu, drew more than a dozen vendors and hundreds of eager gourmands to a South End parking lot in search of mobile gastronomic bliss. Under the hot sun, the crowd noshed on barbecue, brisket, sausages, pickles, ice cream, fried chicken, grilled cheese, hot dogs, tacos, and cupcakes.

All of it served out of something with wheels: trucks, yes, but also pushcarts, and one tricycle (Taza Chocolate's Chococycle).

Boston can be unwelcoming to food-truck owners, with a long list of no-go areas and a maze of permits and licenses to navigate. But City Council President Michael Ross (who showed up to share a sandwich with Mayor Tom Menino) called last month for a hearing to re-examine and simplify food-truck regulations.

That would be welcome news for Hill, who has owned the M&M Ribs truck for three decades.

"It's a lot of work, trying to keep the truck clean and everything else, a lot of work. A lot of headaches. But — I like it," he said. "Maybe I get to be a hundred and ten if I stay in this type of business."

When he's not dishing out barbecue, Hill parks the truck in his driveway. Sometimes, if he can't sleep, he goes out and sits in the truck in the middle of the night.

In here, he's king.

"Feel like I'm home in here, really," said Hill. "Feel like I'm home."

  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Tom Menino, Michael Ross, Taza Chocolate
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