Eating in a Thai restaurant with nondescript decor and being served by a teen aged white kid with those huge black circular gauged earrings stretching his earlobes doesn’t make for an authentic Thai experience. Even restaurants in the world showcase in Epcot center employee waiters and chefs from the countries that they recreate. But what makes food authentic? Is it the way the food is prepared, where you eat it, who it’s served by, or all of the above?
Today I’m going to give you directions on how to make authentic Jersey grub. First, grow a five o’clock shadow, grab a cigarette, gain about 30 lbs and begin sweating. As the stereotypes dictate, this is a cook at a Jersey diner. If the stereotypes continue, he only knows how to cook up a pork roll egg and cheese sandwich, or anything greasy that has peppers and onions slathered on top. Despite what many “foodies” (I’m sorry to all my foodie friends but I hate that term) will lead you to believe, Jersey doesn’t really have it’s own cuisine since we are lucky to have a huge mish mosh of everything there is to offer. Sure we have about a half a million diners in our state, but the majority of our signature meals are very basic and nothing to describe as “mouthwatering” or “savory.” That’s not to say that meals at our restaurants can’t be described that way, it’s just that many of them don’t actually serve the type of “Jersey Grub” that THE JERSEY GRUB TRUCK offers.
Started by a Jersey guy who moved to the west coast, The Jersey Grub Truck can be seen all around Los Angeles. We are known for our blueberries and cranberries, but the Jersey Grub Truck serves mostly fat sandwiches. For instance, an L.A Weekly post highlighted that one of the menu items is The Fat Jerz Sandwich, which is hamburger, egg, pork roll, and BBQ sauce. Is it the pork roll that makes it Jersey? Can you incorporate salt water taffy or pork roll into any meal to give it that Jersey zest? Wow, that’s a stretch. The Sexy Armpit has already glossed over New Brunswick’s fat sandwiches featured on Man vs. Food, and that is essentially what the Jersey Grub Truck serves. The Jersey Grub Truck stole the idea of The Grease Trucks and brought it to Hollywood. If there’s one thing that Jersey is NOT, it’s Hollywood, and if you have not left Jersey that is precisely the reason why. Not only are we on opposite sides of the country, but we lead extremely different lifestyles. Regardless of our differences, I’m glad there’s a little more of Jersey being spread around L.A!
To get “real” Jersey grub, you don’t need to sing “Born To Run,” while cooking or stop at a catering truck. For tips on the best Jersey cuisine check out Jersey Bites and also read Pete Genovese’s book, Food Lovers Guide to New Jersey. But the best way to find authentic Jersey cuisine is to discover it for yourself. Your best bet is heading down to that family owned neighborhood dive, it will surprise you.