Photograph by Marie McGrory, National Geographic
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Surveying the lunchtime scene at D.C.'s Truckeroo food truck festival.
Photograph by Marie McGrory, National Geographic

So, What Do Food Truck Workers Eat?

You may have noticed that National Geographic‘s been on a food truck roll lately. That’s because we see food trucks, and really, any food sold on the street to people on the go, as a big part of the future of food.

Friday, we went down to the monthly food truck festival, Truckeroo, near Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. for lunch. We found frozen cheesecake and banh mi, falafel and grilled cheese, and everything in between.

And we talked to the hard-working folks taking orders and cooking in a hot truck for 12 hours about what they like to eat while they’re working. Their answers were almost as varied as their food offerings.

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Ice cream, anyone? Photograph by Marie McGrory, National Geographic

“I love my own food the best,” says Michael Habtemariam of DC Ballers, a bright orange, no-frills food truck that sells freshly made falafel and seasoned fries for $10. And I can see why: The ratio of coriander to hummus to pita was just right. He says he is usually too busy taking orders to walk around. (He was kind enough to let us take a look inside his truck, so check out the NatGeo channel on Snapchat for that.)

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A Maine-style lobster roll waits patiently to be eaten. Photograph by April Fulton, National Geographic

A worker at Red Hook Lobster Pound, a popular truck that trades in both Maine and Connecticut lobster rolls says he wants to eat anything but lobster. (FYI, Maine lobster rolls are poached lobster tossed with cool mayo, served in a buttered, griddled split-top hot dog roll. Yes, please! And Connecticut lobster rolls are poached lobster tossed in more butter. It’s overkill.)

Many of the food truck workers say they like to swap food with other trucks. “Sometimes people are willing to trade with us,” says Yustina Riad of the Fava Pot, a cheery green and white Egyptian food truck that donates a portion of its income to Coptic orphans.

The in-kind swap seems to be something many of the truck workers look forward to, both as a way to check out the competition and to try something new. “We eat well,” adds Mark Humphries, who was working the window at That Cheesecake Truck. And really, isn’t trying something new without leaving home—like a frozen strawberry cheesecake wedge on a stick, covered in chocolate or a jerk chicken kabob—why we all love food trucks?

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Waiting is the hardest part. Photograph by Marie McGrory, National Geographic

In case you missed it, in the last few weeks, we’ve documented the birth of the gourmet food truck wave in L.A. in National Geographic magazine, shared your photos of what street eating means to you during our Your Shot #streetfood challenge, and told you about the growing role of commissaries. Stay tuned, because there’s more to come!