Mexico is home to a notorious variety of high-quality street food – available around the clock and in volume. This food comes from carts, storefronts, trucks, vans, you name it. Let’s take a closer look at one of these food trucks in particular, on two very important days in their history. Below are some recent events in the life of Jesus Rodriguez (far right) and his son Chuy Rodriguez (left in the truck):
At 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, October 27th, two Americans arrived at Chuy’s food truck, nÓmada XXI, after wandering around a strip-mall parking for 20 minutes lot looking for it. The truck is black with an angry looking gorilla face adorning back back right corner. It looks like an ideal playmate for a Shark Car! As they sit down, Jesus greets them warmly and offers to take their order. Chilaquiles made with skirt steak and a burger topped with pulled pork. And to drink? Coffee? Water? Cerveza made in-house? Two cervezas, please.
More to come on this, but let’s go back a little further – to May, 2016:
Chuy, Jesus, and the entire nÓmada team have been invited to participate in an International BBQ Competition in Memphis, hosted by Jack Daniels. They would be the only team representing Monterrey or the state of Nuevo Leon.
After preparing for weeks, the group lugged a trailer filled with smoked meats, cheeses, peppers and more to the border crossing at Laredo (they could bring anything but the primary cut of meat, which would be provided by the competition). All of these items being agricultural in nature, they were banking on a miracle that they would not be searched at the border crossing.
A friend from San Antonio had joined them to cross – the only one who spoke english. At the checkpoint, they waited in silence as the San Antonian took the lead. The border official laughed and asked in Spanish, “I can tell you guys are from Mexico because you’re all silent while this guy does the talking. Where are you from and where are you going in the US?”
The crew explained that they were from Monterrey and had been invited to compete in a BBQ competition in Memphis – they were driving there.
The guard smiled again – “I have family in Monterrey. I guess you guys better go win first place.” He passed the car through without looking at a thing.
“We should have packed the trailer full of multa,” Jesus said as he relayed the story. We could have started our own little business stateside.
The nÓmada crew made it to Memphis without incident and prepared three cuts of meat: pork shoulder, skirt steak, and prime rib. They received one 9/10 and two perfect tens. These scores were good enough to rank them 16th out of the 300 contestants that entered the competition. Mark Lambert, the BBQ Godfather of Memphis, told them that if they didn’t enter again in 2017, he would hunt them down.
Jesus beamed as he finished the story. “I was a great moment for us and for my son,” he said, “Chuy is much smarter and more talented than I am – it is what every parent dreams of.”
More about nÓmada XXI: