Facebook friends and followers know that we were just in Tulsa, OK, where we made paella for a sell-out crowd 2 days in a row inside Lola’s Gypsy Caravan, an Airstream eatery a lot like ours, owned and operated by a drop-dead-gorgeous mother/daughter duo who welcomed us into their kitchen like old friends or kin.
Inside Lola’s sweet Airstream trailer parked in the shadow of Tulsa’s art-deco downtown, a digital thermometer registered 115 degrees Fahrenheit at one point. But rather than wilting in the heat, Lola, Wren, Carlos, and I thrived! We shared stories, swapped knives and cutting boards, and traded lots of laughter. While we cooked, a pick up band played at the oil-cloth covered picnic tables outside and hula hoops swirled around the waists of willing customers, the most daring of them standing in the spray from Lola’s gently swirling sprinkler. It was our own little slice of heaven, and as we recapped each day & readied ourselves for the next, we pinched ourselves, giddy over our good fortune!
The connections and coincidences were uncanny—kind of magical really, in that “the stars were aligned…Santa Fe-surreal-sort-of-way.” I grew up in Oklahoma, and so did Lola, both of us leaving at 17 with the belief we’d never look back in spite of campy childhoods spent romping happily through middle America. Carlos landed planes in Tulsa near Spartan aviation in the 80s, and Lola reminded us that Spartans are those huge metal trailers like Airstreams, only bigger, that have been transformed into food trucks like our own trailers. (See the previous post’s leading image). Lola lived in Santa Fe, and operated restaurants—one downtown, the other at a funky swimming pool clubhouse Carlos has had his eye on for months. Both women lived together down the street from where I live today—“up” the street from Carlos’s house, and Wren wandered the same city sidewalks & funky haunts 20 years ago that our kids are discovering today. Wren’s 11-year-old daughter speaks fluent Spanish. Carlos is from Venezuela. Lola studied Creative Writing, and I dream of writing creatively for a living again. The Lives and Times of Archy & Mehitabel sat on a table piled high with books outside Lola’s front door. I LOVE that book and call my daughter, Alex, “Alley Cat,” in part because of Mehitabel. And Lola’s house? We drove to it talking about the GAP band and Tulsa’s untaught history while rain poured in through the sunroof splattering our heads, and a rainbow formed in front of the house, perched on a hill overlooking downtown Tulsa. Inside and out, it was the stuff dreams are made of, and Carlos snapped pictures gleefully, his artist eyes capturing dozens of delightful details. I guess Wren pretty much summed it up in saying, “we just feel like we’ve known y’all forever.” Yep. I think somehow we have! And as we rolled out of town towing our 1953 Featherlite back towards New Mexico, we realized with joyful disbelief and infectious giggles, that we were sold on Tulsa, Oklahoma —a city that a few days before we couldn’t have imagined loving like we both do. Plus, we’d been given the heart-swelling, smile-spreading gift of kindred spirits in discovering two of Tulsa’s most beautiful inhabitants.
So it turns out that it was the perfect launch to our new project—an “organic” scheme (read about it in the Tulsa World at:http://www.tulsaworld.com/site/articlepath.aspx?articleid=20120712_455_WK28_CUTLIN823944 and at headline Airstream Culinaire in Sunday’s paper, July15) to create community and cook with like-minded food truck owners across the country, and document our adventures for an ebook and TV pilot. I said in my last blog post that food truck click would be about “tasty inspiration,” and it feels today like we’ve been served up a feast of motivating inspiration in just a couple of short days. I wrote, “A Slurp is a sound that is FULL of life—a noisy sucking it all in with abandon.” The photo above is of a sign that hung outside Lola’s in Tulsa. Coincidence? Kindred spirits! Tasty inspiration!
Social media are the bread and butter of the food truck industry, and while we’re at the earliest stage of our learning curve as to how to make it happen—that’s the “organic” part—we’re excited to be on to something! In the fast moving world of mobile food, it’s a new angle we’re playing with. Guess we’re somehow “Trusting in Paella,” (read post in archives) and Slurping with ABANDON, knowing that the dots are connecting forward even if we can’t map how they are doing so just yet.