September 4, 2016


So what exactly could be wrong with having taco trucks on every corner? (Steve Lopez, 9/04/16, LA Times)

On Friday morning, at my own risk, I drove into the heart of the dominant culture.

In Boyle Heights, I parked behind a bright red taco truck with "El Monchis" painted on it.

Ramon Flores, 23, told me the days are long and the work is hard, but he likes being in the business and hopes to take it over when his dad retires.

"I'm out at 6 a.m. every day," said the East L.A. resident, who drives to downtown Los Angeles in the morning to buy food for the day. "Then I have to open the truck and cook the meat."

Flores, a Garfield High School graduate, parks in his regular spot on Cesar Chavez Avenue, next to an Auto Zone and across from Station 2 of the L.A. Fire Department. The bright red truck has the names of family members painted on it. 

Flores's father and brother operate the family's other truck, which is anchored in East L.A.

On a typical day, Flores said, he and his assistant chef will shut down and clean the truck in the early evening, and he gets home around 8 p.m.

So how many days a week does he pull such a long shift?

"Seven," he said. "We have to work every day to make enough money."

You'd think any Trump supporter would appreciate rather than loathe this kind of initiative. It's the American entrepreneurial spirit on display.

And the tacos are made in America, unlike some of the clothing sold under Trump's name [...]

A mile south of the hospital, Leo Llamas of Leo's Mariscos Colima was flying American flags from his truck, as if it were Fourth of July.

How long has he been in business?

"Forty years," he said, telling me he raised a family on sales of seafood cocktails.

I figured I needed to hit one last taco truck and order lunch, so I drove west. When I got to MacArthur Park, I spotted a brightly painted truck with religious figurines propped up in the front window. The name of the truck?

"Love & Peace Seafood and Mexican Grill."

It was parked outside a Bank of America. I moved in close enough to hear the owner speaking in Spanish to his customers, and when he was free for a moment, I asked if he had heard the taco truck comments.

"No," he said. "I'm too busy working to pay attention to politics."

I asked if he was from Los Angeles.

"No," he said. "Egypt."

He told me he came to this country seven years ago, learned to speak Spanish and made friends with someone who taught him how to cook Mexican food. Three years ago, he said, he bought his own truck, and the woman cooking at the grill was his Guatemalan wife.

Which might be the most American tale ever.

Posted by at September 4, 2016 7:30 PM