The Self-Loathing
 Gentrifier: Food Trucks Suck?

Dear SLG,
Is it wrong that I hate food trucks owned and operated by transplanted hipsters? They’re noisy, expensive, create tons of garbage, and take advantage of infrastructure they don’t really pay into (unlike, say, the local storefront restaurants they obscure). Not to mention they’ve made it a lot harder for your more humble immigrant food-cart guys.
Brick and Mortar Guy, Carroll Gardens

You’re one those people who answers your own question, or at least leads the question by the nose toward an answer, which is fine, but can be irritating, in that it leaves advice columnists less to do. Let’s review. Is it wrong? That’s an ethical question. Can it be justified? Of course it can: you’ve just justified it. Is your hatred productive? This is the central question, really, much more important than the rest of them. You can kick and scream, carp and mope, about the food trucks invading your neighborhood. You can turn your back on dumplings and waffles and gourmet pastries. But in the end, they’ll be there, using up less energy than restaurants in most measurable ways: not just the electricity, but even the gas, because one truck has to drive to where dozens of people walk, instead of dozens of cars driving to where one restaurant stands. To your other point, about the “more humble immigrant food-cart guys,” this strikes me as some kind of essentialist idealization of immigrant food- cart guys, not to mention that I haven’t seen any evidence that trucks get in the way of carts. Rather, they keep people at the curb, eating. A rising tide lifts all mobile food establishments.

Dear Self-Loather,
I love our local empanada vendor. But when I asked him where he sourced his beef, and if his cornmeal was non-GMO, he looked at me blankly. I’m all for authenticity but… What do I do?
Loca for Local, Williamsburg

Did you actually ask him where he “sourced his beef”? If I was the guy I would either be furious over your presumption or I would make a mental note to use that later, in some kind of porny context. Here is my advice: don’t eat his empanadas. You don’t need the mental anguish of worrying whether or not his cornmeal is GMO and he doesn’t need your business. Sometimes divorce works for both parties.

Dear SLG,
Your colleague at The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik, recently weighed in on the question of New York vs. Montreal bagels (definitively in support of the latter). Where do you stand?
Provocateur in Prospect Heights

I remember when this debate was all the rage, a few years back. Writers of all shapes and sizes would meet in Writer Clubs and fight it out, sometimes to the death—we all recall the sad case of the travel writer who did not make it to 30. Not much interested in bloodsport, I had my own way of settling the matter. I rolled a bagel the 380 miles between the two cities. I will not say which direction the rolling went, whether it was Montreal-New York or New York-Montreal. I used a rolled-up copy of either the Montreal Gazette or the New York Post as a stick. I will say only that when I arrived, I took the bagel, lifted it to a table, located a knife, bisected it with one clean stroke, applied a small amount of sun-dried tomato cream cheese, and fed it to my dog. He chuffed approvingly.

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