Smokers.

I know where I am.

When I smell the food smoking away. Street food. BBQ working away. Grilling big sausages. Often with the cooks hidden in a cloud of pungent smoke.

You know how I feel about street food. I love it. In any place. In any city. On any continent. I know that it’s freshly cooked. I know that it’s safe since it prepared over an open and hot flame. And, it’s inexpensive. A good sausage with all the fixings costs $5.00. No. There aren’t any sides. This is street food. Handed to you by a guy who is wearing black rubber gloves. Mechanic’s gloves.

If you want a drink of anything, you’ll have to go find another vendor. If it’s the hard stuff your after, it’s $5.00. That’s for two unmeasured shots over ice, or not, in a plastic cup. There are free mixers. They are very plain. Coca Cola. Royal Crown Cola. Orange Juice. Ginger Ale.

There ain’t no craft cocktails here. No Cosmopolitans.

I drink water. That’s a dollar a bottle.

The picture. I’ve been waiting for this picture a long time. It’s hard to find. The scene was damn near perfect. A lot of light gray smoke. It was backlighted to illuminate the smoke. The light also gave the leaves in the background a sparkling quality. The cook was built well and made a good silhouette.

And, I was talking to a videographer friend of mine who shoots tape for a radio station. Yeah. I know. This is New Orleans that we are talking about. He helped me by blocking passersby from getting in between me and the scene. He really didn’t have to do much. He mostly just stood there.

All I did was pick my moment and press the button. The exposure, which I pre-set, was dead on. I only had to clean up a little bit in post production. This is what I did instead of watching “The Lame Bowl.” Then we paraded all around the city. We had a lot more fun than the fine folks of Atlanta. The general consensus around the country was that New Orleans did much better than the two teams who played. I forget who they are. Maybe you can help? Our music was certainly better than the half time entertainment.

For the coincidence seekers among you, here’s one. The New Orleans Saints record during the 2018 season was 13 – 3. That’s 13 wins and two loses. The game score was 13 – 3. The winning team scored thirteen points, whoever they were. The losers scored three. That made it the lowest scoring lame bowl in history. It was beyond boring, so they say. Even the announcers couldn’t resist tearing the game down.

That’s how bad it was.

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BBQing the ribs.
BBQing the ribs.
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Another happy cook
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Happy cooks at The Fat Falafel

So. I promised you that my first post of the day was just a test. It was. What is really cool about that post is that I did everything, except make the picture, on my i-Pad. This is very important since I’m trying to travel even more lighter these days. I reckon if I don’t need a laptop, the will cut my carry on luggage down to very little. I’ll test it next week from the road. Hopefully, it will work as well as I’d like. What would be extra cool is if I could just think pictures and not need a camera. Kidding.

Tonight. There is a big movement in New Orleans to legalize food trucks. Actually, it’s not to make them legal. They are. But, they are restricted. So it’s really an attempt to make the current rules a little less strict so that they can park in certain locations in the city for more than a few minutes. Some of the city council people are actually championing this. That’s all good. If you’ve read Storyteller for any length of time, you know that I really like street food in all forms. In all countries. So, of course, I really like the idea. In order to drum up public support, someone came up with the idea of holding monthly food struck festivals. Many of them are organized in Central City on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. That fits in very nicely with my long form project. I can photograph and I can eat. Pretty good, huh? There were ten food truck tonight. Ribs. Very high-end grilled cheese sandwiches. Burgers. Hot dogs from Dat Dog. Great coffee. Soul food. Falafels. Mexican food. And, so on. Get in line. Order. About ten minutes later you are eating. There’s pretty good music, too. And, plenty of tables on which to enjoy your dinner.

The pictures. Technically, I did pretty much what I always do. Content was important last night. A close friend of mine  suggested that I’ve been framing too tightly and that I wasn’t leaving enough background information in the picture. So, I loosened up. That’s a big switch for me. I like to frame tightly and graphically. The other change was working more with the people whom I photographed. You see the results in each frame. Even though the top image of the man grilling ribs is graphic, we talked enough for him to ask me when he could shut the lid. I worked quickly because I think that he’s trying to feed people and I’m just making pictures. Oddly, chatting with people is easier for me than framing more loosely. For many photographers that’s reversed.

 


I’ve written about my habit of eating street food. I’ve said that I find it to be very good, always tasty, freshly prepared and usually safe to eat. In the United States, at least, street food has morphed into truck food. Yep. Food tracks are popular in many cities. In Dallas and in Portland, there are food courts established for the trucks. On certain nights, they even hold sort of a food truck festival. Not so much in New Orleans. This is surprising given that the city is one of the foodie capitals of the country. Why not? Well, there is an ordinance on the books that regulates snow ball stands and rolling fruit vendors. It’s an ancient law and there is a movement to change it. Why now? There are some great food trucks sneaking around, selling all kinds of food. Mostly, the owners have to be pretty stealthy and street wise since they can be ticketed. I suppose if they are caught more than once, they can be arrested.

So.

There is an official food truck festival being held monthly. On a lot. In Central City. Which is kind of how I came to it. It was great fun. There were probably a thousand people happily munching away. There was music. There were great smells in the air. Even the mobile coffee trucks were out. I’m not talking about your father’s coffee truck where you could by some terrible tasting and tepid coffee. I’m talking about a guy arriving in an old French truck and making espresso, or cafe au lait, with high quality beans. Good stuff.

This picture. I many ways, it’s a tribute to the people who own the trucks and are trying to earn a living from it. It’s hot, cramped work. It must be done on site because one of their claims to fame is that the food is freshly prepared and cooked while you wait. Technically, it isn’t much. I just walked up to the open door, asked if I could… and made a few pictures.

There are all sorts of questions about the food trucks. But, I’ll leave those to smarter people than I am.


I have a very kind follower who wrote that I am an artist. She said something to the effect that I should embrace it. I would if I was an artist. But, I’m not. I’m not a lot of things. That’s okay with me. What I am is pretty simple. I’m a photographer who makes pictures of whatever is in front of me, That’s really the core of  me. Oh yeah. Sure. Sometimes I light things. Sometimes I shoot what falls into the portrait category. Or, the commercial category. Or, travel. Or, or, or…

One of the wisest photographers I know, Jim Richardson, has this to say about it. “If you want to take better pictures, stand in front of better stuff.” That’s it. That’s pretty much what I do.

So.

Here’s some of that stuff now. Not only do I enjoy street food. This new fangled and trendy food trucks are a Godsend to me. But, I enjoy a lot of Asian food. Like the Vietnamese soup, Pho.