|Lazy Sunday...or Pandemic weekday? The past few months|
have made it tough to tell
Hi there - you miss me?
Most likely, probably not - my Instagram feed has been going pretty strongly, and the blog...well, when the turmoil that has marked 2020 washed through, I admit I didn't feel much like writing.
There's a lot to say about the year that has been, and I thought about venturing into topics that were never the focus of this blog. After much consideration, I decided it should stay that way. There's more than enough places to get the back and forth regarding those subjects, and I've done my share of checking up on things at sources I trust and respect the past several months.
But, with this blog being a food- and travel-centric one, I will say something in relation to the food industry as it had been. If it wasn't clear how much of a true bargain the old model was for many consumers, it should be apparent now. The size of the industry somewhat shrouded the very imperfect model of long hours for low-profit margins for a vast majority of establishments, especially the mom-and-pop, locally oriented ones, but the pandemic has fully lifted that cover.
The crisis has also exposed the very much underappreciated and bonus benefits (such as free music entertainment, or the fact that a fairly modest investment (an extra cup of coffee or a dessert plate will give you and your buddies extends your ability to hangout at your brewery/restaurant/bar/cafe of choice for an extra hour or two)) the diner basically took for granted in local restaurants, cafes and breweries during pre-pandemic times.
Considering those factors, as well as the fact that you essentially are relieved of almost all work related to the dining process when you do, in fact, dine out, I realize now how much of a bargain dining out really was for us the past several years in most cases. And like many in the restaurant industry have stated, the old model needs to be revamped to keep local restaurant scenes thriving post-pandemic. I don't know about you, but I don't travel around from city to city to prove that a Starbucks Frappuccino tastes the same in Columbus and San Francisco.
To keep with the comparison, I travel between the two cities to see how the coffees of One Line Coffee and Mission compare to those of Four Barrel and Ritual Roasters. And, I for one, am willing to pay for that privilege in our future travels, no matter what city we may journey to, if it means thriving and eclectic dining scenes throughout the country.
Whether the public as a whole is willing to do so, well, only time will tell...
So in this age of COVID, what has been good? Well, let's start with something that has become a tradition for us during these past several months.
Like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, food trucks have had to massively scramble to make a living during these times. Many of the usual hot spots are no longer bustling, with many workers relegated from downtown high rises to working remotely from home; the normally lucrative festival circuit has also been severely curtailed. Neighborhood pop-ups have helped a bit, but nowhere near makes up for the loss of normalcy.
One of our favorite food trucks decided to go a unique route with their approach, and we have been more than happy with the results.
I've written more than once about Laura Lee's and Sean Cristales' Ajumama food truck (the latest back in 2016 on this post) and posted quite a few many more photos of their Korean meets Midwest sensibilities fare on my Instagram account. After COVID and other considerations, Lee decided the best route was to do the family-style meals on weekends, and it has allowed us to explore her cooking prowess beyond decadent creations like the Bulgogi Cheesesteak and their Dduk 'N Cheese, a Korean-inspired take on the ever-popular Mac N' Cheese.
We've expanded our own explorations into things like Vegan Andong Jjimdak (made with Tofu and Jackfruit) and Korean Fried Chicken Wings, not to mention a Korean-style Meat Loaf that blows most any standard edition version of this comfort food away.
And like past years, they've kept their special Filipino and Hawaiian-themed offerings alive, getting us a chance at Spam Musubi, Crab Rangoons, Adobo, Lumpia, and Bulgogi Plate Lunches. Other weekly offerings have dove into Cajun cuisine, Southern California-styled Mexican offerings, and of course, new to us Korean-themed offerings like Bindaetteok (Korean Falafel) and Jjangmyeon (Noodles and Black Bean Sauce.) Of course, you can't beat a closer like the Hodduk Kit, a cinnamon-laced disk of desserty goodness that is easier to make than you might think
Food ordering is done by Tuesday evenings after the week's menu gets sent out via e-mail (a pickup time should be specified at this time as well - typically, pickup is Friday afternoons and Saturdays between 4-7 PM; delivery is also available within the I-270 Beltway for a small fee.) All meals can be retrieved at the Food Fort by the Ajumama food truck: your order is placed on a table outside the truck during the designated pickup time.
In past years, Ajumama has closed up shop for the winter. I do not know what this year has in store for the food truck, but I wouldn't wait to get on their e-mail list if you haven't delved and wanted to sample their family-meal offerings yet this year. If nothing else, you can grab some cool-looking clothing that recently appeared in their merch shop for the upcoming cooler months.