New York Times food columnist John T. Edge opens his new book, The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings From America's Best Restaurants on Wheels (Workman), with a dash of culinary gloating. He is describing a (likely futile) crackdown on New Delhi's 100,000 street vendors in advance of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. "Back in the States," he says, "cities were loosening regulations—not tightening them—in an effort to make streetscapes more vital."
Maybe. Edge has managed to find plenty of fodder for a book about the country's best mobile eats. But his generally appealing (if occasionally impractical) recipes for Tater Tots with Sumac, Carne Asada, and Cardamom-Spice Doughnuts are seasoned with references to food cultures challenged or crushed: Cart proprietors butt heads with regulators in cities from St. Paul to New Orleans. Portland's "pods," clusters of legit food carts immune from hassle and hounding, offer a refreshing alternative, and perhaps a way forward. —Katherine Mangu-Ward