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  • Writer's picturepeter grose

Meals on wheels

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

I first heard the expression food truck in Wellington, New Zealand. Ophelie, the daughter of our next door neighbours, had moved to New Zealand with her husband and together they started a well-reviewed French restaurant in Christchurch. Despite the good reviews and good bookings, they felt it was a lot of hard work for not enough reward. They decided to move to Wellington and buy a food truck instead. Last I heard they were in Auckland, so maybe the Wellington food truck didn't live up to expectations.

My next food truck was the one pictured above. It was set up in 2013 by Philippe, from Martinique, and his wife from La Réunion, two French cooks from islands with plenty of creole culinary history. I first ate from the creole food truck when they catered at a function for our local tennis club. Now called O'ti Kréol, the new truck passes our house every night.

After that came Mohamed Deeb with his cuisine syrienne, which you can read about in my 29 June blog entry ('Tuck In'). Now there's a new and very distinguished entrant to our island's food truck sweepstakes in the form of GaïA, which you can see pictured below. This is run by husband and wife Patrick and Cecile, who are also proprietors of what is for our money the best restaurant on our island of Oléron, namely Saveurs des Îles ('flavours of the islands'). Patrick is the chef de cuisine and Cecile works front of house. Their culinary style is a delicate fusion of locally sourced ingredients and Asian spices. They are also pretty environmentally conscious, as you can see from the picture below.

For the record, I once published a book by Jim Lovelock, who had in an earlier book created the notion of the earth as a single organism, which he called Gaia. When Jim wrote his best-selling Gaia he can hardly have expected over 40 years later to see his book's title plastered all over a food truck on an obscure French island called Oléron. How could he, for Heaven's sake? Up-market food trucks hadn't been invented back in 1979 when his book first appeared!

What does all this prove? Not much more than the fact that the world of food trucks seems to have moved on from hot dogs and hamburgers to haute cuisine. In Cecile's and Patrick's case, it is their response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Their restaurant has been forced to shut its doors for the last year, and GaïA is their comeback. Welcome back, both! And welcome all!

Mohamed Deeb's cuisine syrienne

GaïA lives! Patrick and Cecile even promise cuisine responsable or environment-friendly food.

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