So the car search is in full swing. Let me just say that there are very few things I care less about than cars. If it drives in a straight line and has a place for a tree-shaped pina colada air-freshener, I will drive it and be happy to do so. It’s just not my thing. Nothing can make my eyes glaze over faster than when a conversation turns to the subject of automobiles.
Except I will say that I do not want a Smart Car, because I feel the experience would be similar to riding on the hot air balloon “ride” at Chuck E. Cheese. And while that can be fun, when executed right before pizza and right after Skee ball, there’s a time and a place for that.
Los Angeles just recently made it through “Carmageddon,” a scheduled bridge demolition project that forced the closure of a ten mile stretch of the 405 freeway for a weekend. For those of you that don’t live in LA, the 405 is the road straight to hell. Many lanes of bad drivers, and nice cars, and nice drivers with bad cars that hit you anyway. I once saw a glass truck turned on its side in the middle of the 405 at 4am, sitting on a beach of shattered glass. I felt a profound sense of: “What… The… HELL.”
I sometimes listen to the morning traffic reports just to see what hell mouth curse has been put on it today. “A truck carrying millions of bottles of dishwashing soap has collided with a water truck on the southbound 405. It’s a slippery situation.”
Or: “An LA County Zoo vehicle transporting a pride of lions for no good reason has overturned on the southbound 405 just north of Sawtelle Boulevard, releasing its cargo in both directions. So it goes without saying, traffic is fierce.” (really, really weak, you guys)
Now you can see why I do not want to be on the 405, covered in soap and lions, in the Chuck E. Cheese hot air balloon. Sorry Smart Car.
Needless to say, putting me at a car dealership is akin to sending a fresh-off-the-bowl goldfish to the UN General Assembly to serve as the delegate from Azerbijan. Or alternatively, like asking Eminem to write a song that does NOT include how he was underestimated by someone at some point.
I am lost, and I am scared. I don’t speak the language, and believe me, they can tell. As much as I try to pepper my dialogue with words I have heard in the past, such as “anti-lock breaking system,” or “transmission,” I am so obviously the Eminem Goldfish from Azerbijan.
Let’s have a look:
“Can I help you miss?”
"Yes, hello Sir that sells cars to people. I would like to look at cars.”
“Ok, what did you have in mind?”
“Um, well, that shiny gray one over there looks pretty good.”
“Oh, sorry. Yep, looks good to me. The tires come with it, right?”
See what I mean? And so it went, all day. And after a whole day spent OUT of my comfort zone, I needed to be IN my comfort zone for a while. My comfort zone always includes food, usually cheese or peanut butter, and on days when I am realllllllly lucky features fried pork. And on this day, my comfort zone was located just off Lankershim, across from Universal Studios looking out over a lovely green park.
This was different kind of vehicle line-up. The kind of vehicle I like. The kind that opens a window on the side and hands you something messy and wonderful to eat from deep within its deep and magical heart. Less “New Car Smell,” more “Duck Fat Fries Smell.”
First, there was the Cheeseball Wagon. I WILL be hitting this truck for Cheesecake Cuties and Cheddar Cheeseballs in the very near future. But the guy at that last dealership was told me that manual windows and door locks meant “less to go wrong,” so that’s enough cheesiness for one day.
Then, the Misk’i truck, loaded with lovely healthy juices and bright chimichurri topped dishes that I look forward to enjoying. But there is a day for lovely healthy juices, and that day is not a car-shopping day.
Next, Antonia’s Nuts, and the friendly guy inside, Chip. But I was already completely nuts from pretending to know what a cylinder does, and how many a proper car should have.
But there, beside the green park, in the shadow of the Universal Studios lot, I found what I needed. Not a car at all. A truck. A Bun Truck.
I had been talked to about things I don’t understand and don’t really care about all day-so when this pork bun didn’t try to sell me anything, didn’t use words I don’t know, just simply said. “Hi,” it was the first conversation I felt I could contribute to all day.
I had the Kalbi bun, which is Kalbi marinated sirloin, tempura onions, mixed greens and aioli. First of all, the “bun,” to which I am referring, and which The Bun Truck serves, is a steamed, yeasted bun, not at all like the traditional hamburger bun you may be thinking of. It is slightly sweet, excessively soft and fluffy, and absolutely positively Caps Lock delicious. And I am now destined to never eat an onion again unless it is a tempura fried onion, because that preparation is clearly the undeniable destiny of any onion ever. The Bun Truck has used its ninja scrumptiousness to turn me into a tempura onion brat.
I moved on to my Katsu bun: deep-fried pork, cucumbers, cilantro, sweet and spicy sauce. This is not heavy cast-iron southern fried chicken “fry,” this is light crispy, pork enhancement “fry.” It is memory-erasing, (how did I get here?) anti-social making, (don’t talk to me, I’m eating this pork bun. That’s what I’m doing, instead of talking to you) good. I am telling you, every component was delicious, and even if it hadn’t been, the sweet and fluffy steamed bun that they have nailed would have apologized for anything.
Even for sending that goldfish to the UN General Assembly. That was ill-advised and poorly timed.