this past weekend jacq, myself, and one trevor steels went to new brunswick (new jersey) to check out our friends’ band orenthal james, who were playing at some bar with some other bands.
after getting lost and almost entering pennsylvania (thanks google maps!), we finally got into into new brunswick after about 2 hours (it should only be about an hour trip). surly and hungry, my eyes widened as off in the distance i saw a parking lot wth what looked like a trailer park/shanty town consisting of about 4 or 5 food trucks situated in one corner. could these be the fabeled grease trucks that id heard all about? birthplace of the fat darrel , the wonder sandwich consisting of chicken fingers, mozzerella sticks, french fries, marinara sauce and/or mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and onions on a sub roll, and considered by maxim magazine as the greatest sandwich in the country?
yes. yes they are.
immediately throwing out the immediate plans to meet up with our friends at a house nearby, i turn into the parking lot and speed walked over to the courtyard of red and white (rutgers’ colors) grease trucks. it was a little early in the evening (8?) and only two of the 5 trucks were open. i breezed through the menu of the one truck where i saw such magnificent combinations as philly cheesesteak with chicken fingers, french fries, and barbecue sauce and names such as the “fat dom” and “fat koko”. and even better, these cholesterol beasts, or “fat sandwiches” as theyre called, were only $5 each. awesome. awesome i tell myself, but i dont want to get all crazy too fast, so i walked over and checked out the menu for the other truck that was open and to my surprise the entire menu was the same as the first. everything, from the names and ingredients of the sandwiches to the prices and the pictures of drunk rutgers students decorating the exterior. both trucks were run by what appeared to be arabic guys, and they didnt seem to be in competition to each other as they all yelled to each other and, well, sold the same shit. as if one day they all just concluded “well, these drunk college kids just want to eat these ridiculous sandwiches so why bother competing? theres enough drunk kids for all of us to get rich!” or, as is the case with many a bodegas situated next to each other, the same dudes probably own both or all of the trucks. i dont know, either way, they all sold the same shit, and i thought that was weird.
i went back to the first truck and went through the menu again and suddenly, i found myself doing something weird: considering my health. now not too toot my own horn, but cholesterol and the like have never intimidated me for i have tackled such heart-destroying foods from deep fried pizza to double chili cheese dogs (and as of last summer, my cholesterol is surprisingly on the level). but now, i was thinking twice. did i dare put up to 3 kinds of fried food into my body, let alone fried food topped with more fried food topped with cheese? i hestitated, i thought, and i went with what i thought was a safe choice (read: wussed out): the fat sop (soprano): chicken fingers, bacon, red sauce, and white sauce (the same they use at halal carts). jacq got cheesy eggs on french fries. we stood and waited as other kids ordered their foods and soon jacq’s eggs were ready. i told the dude that i was paying for both and soon enough a sandwich plopped down on the counter and the guy said “fat something or other”. basicallly, something i didnt understand. but seeing how i ordered after jacq, i figured it was my sandwich, grabbed it, and paid.
i was wrong.
we got to the house we were meeting people at and i couldnt escape the smell of ketchup coming from my sandwich. what the fuck? my sandwich didnt have ketchup on it unless thats what they pass for “red sauce” in new jersey. no, i peaked and i saw french fries. tons of french fries. ok i grabbed someone else’s sandwich but whatever, im gonna eat this thing. this must be the work of god. we walked inside and i immediately went to the nearest table to look at what i had: a hoagie roll filled with cheeseteak meat, chicken fingers, mozzerella sticks, and french fries topped with ketchup. lordy. well, i was starving so i dug in and at first i thought “ok, not bad”, but the more i ate the less impressed i got. the melange of fried food all kind of blended together, as i couldnt distinguish between slightly cold mozzarella stick and slightly cold chicken finger. and the fries were too much filler. i finished it, but it was only so so id say, which upon analysis could only make sense. i mean, for $5, and coming out of a truck, they cant be using top notch ingredients, right? jacq said her eggs were great however.
the show was at a bar called the court tavern which was fairly sized and had lots of wood paneling. the only thing i really have to say is that its always a pleasant reminder how cheap things are outside of new york ($1.50 budweisers until 10pm, where they went up to a staggering $3). the show was pretty good.
after the show, we had acquired more passengers for the ride back to brooklyn and along with those passengers, some empty stomachs. so back to the grease trucks we go…
this time around i told myself and others that i wasnt hungry but jacq coerced me into sharing something with her, so i figured this time id get my fat soprano. only i didnt want bread because that was too much food so we went with the next best thing, french fries. chicken fingers, bacon, hot sauce and white sauce on french fries. now putting things on french fries isnt an option offered on the menu, but these guys seem to be willing to accomodate almost any request seeing how their popularity is based on accomodating some dude’s request for a crazy sandwich. wrapped in foil with 2 forks stuck in it, we carried our customized fat soprano back to the car and dug in. now this was good. everything was pretty hot and the hot sauce and white sauce made for some good flavor, as did the random strips of bacon, and im pretty sure i didnt like this more just because i was drunk. everyone else enjoyed their fat sandwiches (which at certain points were being topped with ice cream), and we made it back to brooklyn full, sleepy, and happy.
so if youre ever in new brunswick, new jersey and you want to delve into local cuisine, ask where the grease trucks are or head to the nearest deli (where apparently they make the same sandwiches). while the concept of the sandwiches is pretty mindblowing, in the end you get what you get: truck food. and dont get me wrong, i love truck food (read my foodpart bio), but a lot of times these trucks and carts use the same frozen fries/chicken/etc, and you get just that: frozen french fries/chicken, etc that might have been sitting out for a while. but whatever, this is the drunk food of dreams and if i lived withint 5 miles of these things id be in the valley of the grease trucks on a regular basis.
and probably weigh 250lbs.