Vital Vittles : Lunch Trucks & Roach Coaches

I like food.  Eating meets the need to input the foodstuffs my multitude of cells need to survive, thrive and complete their replicating tasks.

Over the decades those cells have replicated all too well.  Ample replication until I attained chubbiness then too slender-challenged.

When 245 pounds was packed on I glanced down and reality sunk its iron-clad fist into my ample belly and told me, “Lad, you are officially a tub-of-lard now.”

Gulp.  Groan.

Advancing years and a lack of litheness and far fewer adoring looks from the females of the species compelled me to cut back on the calories.

That was a sad day, a very sad day within the shanty.


For various reasons I really enjoy shoving copious quantities of grub into the gaping maw pert-near’ in the middle of my face.

That had to cease.

And so it began;  a diet.

It can be done. No fancy pay-for-it diets needed.

It is all very simple for most of us.

Input fewer calories than what your body needs to keep the innards functioning as they should.

No excess to be shoved into various nooks and crannies, left as fat deposits for future use during lean times.

Those are fine to have IF lean times arrive but if those times do not come around…

Just activate the proportion-control valve.

Eat less than what the body burns.

It is not easy to determine what amount to eat to ensure the input amount is less than the “burned” amount but there are various general guidelines to access.

The Web is chock-full of sites that will assist the dieter in determining what and how much to eat to allow weight loss.

I shunned those guides and used instinct and basic food knowledge to select food that tended to be generally “healthy.”

That is a fancy way of stating “food that has fewer calories per unit and is generally better for you.”

Lots of vegetables. Fewer yummies.  Bye-bye ice cream and donuts. Hello broccoli and cauliflower.

See yah’, butter. Hello low-calorie Italian dressing.

And cut down on portions!

I needed some new plates to replace those old plastic ones that were a mass of cutting marks from years of knife use.

A fine opportunity to buy replacements that were smaller than the old ones.

A smaller food amount appeared to be larger in proportion to the new small plates than the same serving size atop the old plates. Dieting is at least partly psychological as it is “scientific.”  Convince the mind and the stomach that the amount consumed is as large or even larger than what was gulped down in the past can only assist in the lard-reducing endeavor.

Lesser amounts of food in general along with less calorie-intense fare and more choices of input with fewer calories per food unit.

Simple but effective but not easy!

I whittled the blubbery body down to a current 190 pounds of still not lean but another 20 pounds or so discarded lardage and dieting success will be at hand.


If I can do it you can too.

It took a lot of words to lead up to today’s topic.

Brevity is not my hallmark.


Even with dieting success near at hand on that diet I remain and am forced to adhere to it for life to avoid packing the pounds back on.

Such is the price to be paid for health, vigor and to attract the wandering eyes of gals I encounter while prancing about in public.

But I still have memories, many fine memories, of past meals that made me giddy with glee.

Oh, sure, if cautiously approached special treats can be chomped upon from time-to-time but those moments must be rare.

Peering into the past I fondly recall the weekday morning ritual around 10 AM at the wrecking yard.

This roach coach was of the “modern” type with on-board propane-powered grille and deep-fat fryers and refrigerated storage units. A mini-restaurant-on-wheels.

Operated by what apparently was a family unit of Vietnamese refugees that were quite common in that area (San Francisco Bay area) the bosses’ son stated what was well said, “Everything that comes off that truck has an “oriental” taste to it but it sure tastes good!!!”

All present agreed. From the available Chinese and Vietnamese dishes to the traditional USA fare of cheese burgers, French fries, corn dogs, burritos, cold sandwiches and anything else packaged or ready-made that a place could be found for there it was and at decent prices.

My favorite fare? The incredibly awesome, nonpareil, incomparable, incredibly delicious most awesome tasting bacon cheese burger I have EVER had the opportunity to sink my remaining real teeth into.

Two not-too-thick dead cow patties resting between mayonnaise-slathered San Francisco-style sourdough rolls, sliced onion, fresh lettuce and four thick bacon slices.

Toss in that subtle but ever-present “oriental” taste, that nuance of overseas “mystery” and the taste buds tingled with near-overwhelming delight.

No exaggeration from me, folks. Three bucks back in the late 1980s for the finest burger I have gnawed upon of the multitude that have wandered into my innards over the decades.

Oh how I looked forward to every week day morn.  Nirvana would have been near if the “coach” also pulled in every Saturday. But, alas, the dynamic duo operating the mobile delight-dispensing device insisted upon weekends off.

Describing how food tastes is nigh-on impossible. What is there to be said? Words such as “good, great, yummy, savory, delightful, best, awesome, etc” assist but taste is akin to describing a color.  Uhhhh…. It’s orange!!! It looks like an uhh… Orange!!!!

That is just fine but what if it is an unripe orange and it is green? Okay, that IS a simplistic attempt at explaining the difficulty of conveying information via written words but the limitations exist and you, gentle reader, will have to take my word for my exclamations.

Best burger EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And I miss them!!!  Badly.

A double whammy.  The wrecking yard closed down and I did not know where that particular roach coach stopped at other local locales. Typically the coaches followed construction job sites, following the construction crews as they moved from job-to-job, but stopped at our yard due to the constant regular turnout of loyal customers from our yard and surrounding small firms.

Then I moved from that area to Nebraska, 1,700 miles away. Even for the bestest burger in the entire world that was a bit too far to travel for a meal, though at times I was tempted.

Here it is, a quarter-century later and I wonder if those folks are still making and selling the best burger ever. Perhaps they capitalized upon their abilities and bought their own roach coach or a brick-and-mortar place and serve what is surely a grateful public wherever they are.

Even if I still had access to that burger the overwhelming need to slenderize would have required greatly reducing the number of bestest burgers devoured. I guesstimate I could allow a mere one burger monthly. One! I don’t know if I could have amassed the willpower to do that.

But, my distance from the source, even if it still exists, did not impede my slenderizing efforts.

I still have the wonderful memories of the moments spent with my beloved burgers of so long ago. Precious treasured moments that no Hallmark card can describe.

A very close second-place bestest burger can be ladled upon Red’s Java House just south of the San Francisco-Bay Bridge on the San Francisco waterfront.

A long-time local institution Red’s also had a scrumptious double cheese burger perched upon San Francisco-style sourdough rolls.

However, Red’s did not offer that subtle and mighty yummy “oriental” flavor our beloved roach coach offered.

When the delivery schedule and route allowed I planned my route to include a meal stop at Red’s. The Boss paid for lunch so I used those funds for the burger, fries and a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper where Herb Caen’s column appeared on weekday editions.

Herb, along with Red’s, was a San Francisco institution. Well, Red’s still is but Herb passed on a few years back and nary a replacement has been found; if one ever does arise.

Diligently chomping on my Red’s burger while savoring Herb’s writing, sitting in my delivery vehicle with a splendid view of that mammoth bridge to my left and the bay spread out before me; I was a lucky man.

“But surely you have found a source in your current living area for a Stupendous Meal ™ you Old Codger,” I envision many to all of you shouting at your monitor while reading these words.

One would figger’ that simple odds would require at least one source of a super-dooper splendilicious close-to-perfection vittles source hereabouts but… nope.

Sure… decent meals here and there but nothing that jumped out to embrace me, compelling me to shout  “You are soooo YUMMY!!!”

Not even close.

Another lacking is the roach coach-type so common in California. The large delivery van-type conveyance akin to a small mobile restaurant. None that I have seen, anyway.

That’s just one of the many differences between a modern metropolitan area as found in many parts of the USA and the nether regions of the country seen far below as the better-class folks pass overhead; high aloft in their wide- and not-so-wide-body jet propelled aircraft.

Peer out the porthole and gaze far below and that small smudge upon the landscape is the largest city in southwest Missouri.

I doubt if my shanty is visible.

If you pass by Red’s Java House stop and chomp a burger in my honor and if you come across a roach coach burger with the certain “oriental” taste that curls your toes with delight convey my thanks for me.

Not a burger

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