Street Eatin'

Truck Stop: Damiana Merryweather of Damiana’s Blue Truck Special

"I guess a lot of guys are into women who can cook and drive a big truck." The former politico shares lessons learned on the road.

By Christopher Werner November 10, 2011

“Street food isn’t about parking in any specific location as much as it is about creating a space where I am.”

In Truck Stop, we meet the folks at the wheel of Seattle’s food trucks.

Damiana Merryweather spent 15 years as a political strategist and lobbyist but it was while tending the butcher’s counter she felt she was really making a difference. "I worked in bars and restaurants in my early 20s. In 2009, I returned to the world of food and rediscovered how much I love genuine customer service and connecting people with great food."

When it came time to hang up the apron Merryweather looked to onetime home Portland for inspiration. "Street food seemed like the natural way to combine the things I love most about food and building communities."

In late July she rolled out Damiana’s Blue Truck Special. Ever since she’s been turning heads with her newfangled approaches to comfort food classics. And her big blue four-wheeler. "The funny thing is how many calls I get while I am out on the road. My phone number is right there on the side of the truck and I guess a lot of guys are into women who can cook and drive a big truck."

Here, Merryweather pulls over (and puts down the phone) for a few questions.

What item sells out first? In the summer I couldn’t make the Jersey Boy Sub fast enough. With the seasons changing, I recently added a braised pork belly sandwich with a brown sugar glaze on a brioche roll, topped with a kale/apple/yogurt slaw. It has been a runaway success.

What else should I try? I am partial to the fried “bologna” sandwich inspired by a classic American comfort food: bologna and white bread. My version is made with mortadella, the Italian meat by which bologna is informed. I grill it up and serve it on a potato roll dressed with Dijon, orange marmalade, and arugula. It is the hardest sandwich for me to get people to try, but the one that is most enthusiastically embraced by those who try it.

Where do your recipes come from? I start with traditional comfort foods—meatloaf, bologna, grilled cheese—then think about how to make them both familiar and new.

Best part of the city relaxing street food regulations: It indicates a clear support for what we are trying to do and the value that we add as small businesses and what we can contribute to creating and engaging public spaces.

What would you still like to change about the regulations? The cost of establishing a street location is prohibitive for individual vendors. The construct is such that it is a big investment up front before you know if the location will be successful. If you guess wrong, then you have sunk a lot of time and money in a bad location. I would like to see more flexibility in how sites can be established.

When you’re not in the truck you’re eating at… Although we both make food for a living, on the rare day that my boyfriend and I have the day off together we enjoy cooking for each other and eating at home.

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