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”Roach coach” is a popular slang term for a mobile kitchen or food truck. These trucks are more politely known as catering trucks, or sometimes taco trucks if they specialize in Mexican food. Food trucks are a popular fixture in many urban areas around the world, moving around to various locations where people gather such as festivals, fairs, and construction sites. In some cases, a food truck attains local fame, and may become a permanent and well known fixture.
The trend of calling a food truck a “roach coach” is a reference to the sometimes less than sanitary conditions inside. Many food truck operators strive to maintain cleanliness, but it can be challenging in a cramped, mobile environment. As a result, a roach coach can become quite attractive to cockroaches and other pests which feed on dropped food and appreciate dark, greasy corners. In some regions of the world, food trucks are subject to health department inspection, and results of these inspections are usually available through a regional authority or the truck operator.
The exact configuration of a roach coach varies. Some actually have kitchen spaces for food preparation, for example, while others sell only packaged foods. As a general rule, a roach coach has refrigeration and freezer spaces to keep food preserved, and a small window which opens onto a counter and register. People select their desired foods from racks on the side of the truck or step up to the window to order and pay.
Ethnic food is frequently served from a roach coach, because a catering truck represents less of an investment than a restaurant, making it more affordable for immigrants starting a new business. The mobility is also an asset, as a truck can follow construction workers or other target markets around. Many office and construction workers greatly appreciate food trucks, since they serve food quickly and they do not require a trip far from the workplace.
Many mobile kitchens set up alongside well traveled roads to appeal to people driving by, or they establish themselves on busy street corners in urban areas. Some of them use fresh, wholesome ingredients in things like sandwiches, tacos, and other classic street foods. Others offer foods more along the deep fried line, while some have things like rotisserie roasters to prepare fresh gyros or other roasted foods. Typically, the food is cheap and the servings are often robust, making a roach coach a decent place to grab an affordable meal.