From the forefront of psychology to the mobile food court in the parking lot - a report by FG4
"There were three highlights for me at the 119th annual convention of the American Psychological Association this weekend in Washington DC. The first was getting to see my husband for three whole days, the second was getting picked by Chaser to play ball with her during a small group demonstration of her amazing talents, and the third was the food truck extravaganza for lunch on Saturday. At the appointed 11:30 time, twelve of the best food trucks in the DC area came to the park outside the convention center to dish up lunch for hundreds of hungry psychologists visiting from all over the world. Of course, as one of those psychologists, and more importantly, one of the Foodie Girls, I felt it my duty to attend this event and report my findings. All in the name of research...
In a tremendous show of support, my husband chose to join me for this lunch escapade, and so I promoted him to an official (and very good-looking) "Foodie Guy" for the afternoon. Sure, he got some good food out of the deal, but who wants to spend that much time with a bunch of psychology students, faculty, and clinicians?! He needed a title.
The layout: on opposite ends of the park are two stages, each with a live band playing different genres of music to entertain the crowds. Picnic tables had been strategically set out with plenty of seating in the shade (did I mention it was 95-degrees with 80% humidity?!) I admit I did like having all that seating, which is usually a challenge when having lunch at a food truck. The food trucks circled the perimeter of the park, with food as varied as their decorations. Everything from middle eastern food to gourmet hot dogs, grilled cheese to pizza, and pies to cupcakes - just to name a few.
Then we spotted it: the truck with the longest line (snaked around the side of the park - at least 30 people waiting at any given time), and with the best reputation: the Lobster Truck.
Actually Foodie Guy had eaten there once before when it was parked near his office, and stated that a long line is standard for them. Foodie Guy also knew that they have a store-front location in New York. Good to have this guy on our team.
After carefully scrutinizing all the options, we return to the Lobster Truck and wait in the crazy long line for our lunch.
The menu is simple: lobster rolls prepared two ways: Maine-style (lobster chunks in a lemony-mayo base, sprinkled with sweet paprika and scallions - served cold) and Connecticut-style (lobster drawn in butter, also topped with sweet paprika and scallions - served warm). They also have clam chowder and a shrimp roll if you aren't that into lobster.
Periodically one of the workers would run down these different preparations by yelling them out of the window of the truck. I appreciate that she was trying to make sure you were prepared to order to keep the line moving, but every time she started, people at the end of the line (who couldn't hear what she said because that line was so darn long) began to panic that they had run out of something. Luckily we were all psychologists and we know how to manage high levels of anxiety...just not when we think the Lobster Truck has run out of lobster. Luckily, steady reassurances from the people in the line who heard what she said helped keep people from rioting.
Our turn to order, Foodie Guy gets the Connecticut-style and a fresh lemonade. I go for the Maine-style as a combo (comes with chips and a Maine Root soda with unlimited refills). This set us back a pretty penny (lobster sandwich alone: $15 and a large (20-oz.) lemonade was $3.50; combo was $18). Once you order, things move nice and quickly. We got our sandwiches within 2-3 minutes and we headed for the air-conditioned sanctuary of the convention center (screw all those nice picnic tables and live music).
We sat down, I opened the containers with our sandwiches and immediately got a whiff of lobster (very yummy!).
One word: delicious. Simply that. Delicious. Gotta say, this was one tasty sandwich. I started with half of the Maine-style, which was really good. Just the right amount (read: just a touch) of the mayo, and a whole lotta lobster. The generous helping of lobster meat was fresh, succulent, slightly sweet, anything but chewy, it was just plain tasty. Then, in true foodie fashion, Foodie Guy and I swapped sandwiches and then it was my turn with the Connecticut-style. We agreed it was no contest - the Connecticut sandwich was the better of the two - absolutely perfectly cooked and delicately seasoned with the butter. The only problem was that darn butter, while definitely not greasy at all, did soak into part of the bun and made it mushy.
I chose the ginger ale soda and it was also very good, and went back for two refills before our lunch break was over. Foodie Guy's lemonade was fantastic, just enough tartness and full of overall flavor. Foodie Guy is a tough lemonade critic, and this one made his short list of favorites.
After finishing our lunches, I was willing to take one for the team, and try one of the pies from the Pie Truck. but they had run out of cherry, and only had pecan left. Instead I opted for a refreshing popsicle. Whatever was fresh at the farmer's market becomes the day's menu selection, for $2.50. I asked the driver, "blackberry basil cream or summer peach?" He said, "definitely the blackberry." I was not disappointed.
Foodie Girl (and Guy) rating: Both the Lobster Truck and Pleasant Pops are ON the list!
Just be sure you have a little extra cash (they do accept all major credit cards) and patience for that Lobster Truck.
If you're in the area, and want to see where the DC trucks will be, click here."
Well done, FG4 and the honorary Foodie Guy! We look forward to your next report.
* She's also sent in critical prior dispatches on reality TV cupcakes and the leaning tower of fro yo.
** For eating in general, and specifically for emailing me the info about your adventures. This is the ultimate in shortcuts for me this week: a post I did not have to write myself!