Monday, March 3, 2008

A rule never to violate in choosing a cart

Searching for some new cart options today, I spied an old fav in a new spot. Hot Soup, a veritable fixture of 54th and Madison, has apparently relocated to 52nd and Lex. No doubt the news was lost in all the political coverage of recent days.

The twice-a-month lunch choice was apparently uprooted because of construction at its longtime site. Which explains why the burrito wagon next to it had pulled up stakes as well.

But there it was, beckoning to me with such worthy choices as Chicken Chili, Italian Wedding Soup, Vegetarian Split Pea, and Gumbo. Each priced at under $5, slab of bread included.

Yet the proprietor was not to be found. As I was surveying the situation, he dashed back to the cart—violating my Prime Directive in choosing a wheeled source for lunch: Never, ever, ever buy from a vendor who’s just returned from a “break.” A break equals bathroom time, which means conning access from some unsuspecting or sympathetic business with indoor plumbing, like a Barnes & Noble or a Ranch*1. Which means the vendor was dashing in and out, possibly to avoid detection, almost certainly to get back to his cart. And that means hand washing might’ve been a skipped step. The guy wasn’t exactly kneading his hands in a terrycloth towel.

So I doubled back to Indian Food, an old dependable that had also disappeared on Friday. I couldn’t get the story from the two women inside because they were chatting in their native tongue to a non-customer on the sidewalk. Instead, I walked away with a great Non-Vegetarian Platter (curried boneless chicken, sag paneer, rice, a piece of nan) for $5. And fewer worries about safety.

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