Friday, June 18, 2004

philly cart food, inflation

i have a dream, and that dream is to one day document every fucking food cart in philly. every time you meet someone new in this city, they tell you about a cart that you haven't tried yet. some carts seem magical, like the indian/mexican one over near penn that supposedly makes burritos with chana masala. others (like that falafel cart over on 17th and chestnut), you see once and you forget where you saw it and you spend countless afternoons wandering around looking for that fucking cart until finally a year later you find it again randomly while trying to find that belgian cafe that makes the sugar waffles.

sadly, the day of my food cart blog will never come. because i am a lazy shit, and documenting food carts would require me to elevate from the sofa. and that's not happening.

on a related note, the philly inquirer has an article about inflation hitting the cart vendors hard:

Operators of Center City's ubiquitous lunch carts have begun tacking on quarters and half-dollars to the price of Philadelphia's signature sandwiches. For years, the cart owners swallowed temporary swings in the wholesale cost of meat, cheese and processed foods - but now some fear that inflation is here to stay.
[...]
"I took a beating" when wholesale cheese prices nearly doubled on top of a 40-cent-a-pound hike in beef earlier this year, Tsoukalos said. "I jacked my prices up" 25 cents a sandwich last month, he said, and he is bracing for more.
[...]
The 300 licensed Center City food carts typically operate in groups associated with restaurants or commissaries, where they can store food and clean their equipment. Many are owned by Greek, Korean or African Americans, and they often hire recent immigrants from Pakistan, Russia or Cambodia who are willing to work standing for hours in extremes of heat and cold.
[...]
The American cheese Kotridis buys for hoagies and other sandwiches has zoomed from $28 for a 20-pound box last winter to between $48 and $53 recently. "And I buy 40 pounds a week," he said.

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