• Mike Palmer

The Good, Bad, And The Beautiful: Black Food Truck Friday CIAA Recap

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

The city of Charlotte recently hosted its 15th and final CIAA tournament for the foreseeable future. Along with the basketball games, day parties, and celebrity filled nightlife, another popular event that took place during CIAA week was Black Food Truck Friday. As the title suggests, Black Food Truck Friday has been a yearly celebration of black owned food vendors collectively providing locals with an opportunity to experience an array of dishes that represent's Charlotte's black culture. As the influx of tournament goers ramped up on a relatively cold Friday night, there was great turnout of vendors and locals at the Freedom Lounge parking lot on Freedom Drive. Among the many incredible vendors in attendance, community favorite, Cuzzo’s Cuisine, noticeably had one of the busiest nights as they served up their famous Lobster Mac & Cheese.

The Good

As I ventured a parking lot of more than 15 food vendors searching for my first meal, my nose continuously lead me back to a particular truck. The truck had Haitian flag colors painted on the side with the name, Ms. Didi’s Caribbean Kitchen, written in the center. The line was long and the weather was brisk, but none of this could deter what I was smelling. After 5 minutes of waiting in line, I was approached by a gentleman with a menu. As I scoured the Caribbean themed menu, I concluded that I couldn't just order one thing, so I was fixed on getting the Jacmel and stuffed plantain cups.

The Jacmel is a fried flounder served with rice and beans, and a side of steamed cabbage. It was amazing. The fish was well seasoned and perfectly fried. The rice, a very important staple in Caribbean cuisine, surpassed my taste buds with hints of spicy pepper and thyme. The plantain cups were stuffed with chicken and served in a bite size. A very simple, yet clever way to enjoy two Caribbean dishes all in one. Its important to note that you must enjoy the plantain cups while they're hot and fresh. After taking some home and warming them up, they simply didnt taste as good. Overall, Ms. Didi's Caribbean Kitchen is definitely a hit, and I would recommend them if they are ever in your area.

The Bad

The relative bad to Black Food Truck Friday was those who missed out on experiencing the culinary collective during CIAA weekend. Not only did they miss out on some of the best food trucks in Charlotte, but also an opportunity to gather and fellowship with other locals within the community. As this was the final CIAA tournament weekend in Charlotte, at least for now, this was a unique opportunity to be on the ground at the Freedom Lounge parking lot, enjoying food from the culture, prepared by black business owners, and most significantly, catering to our specific taste buds.

The Beautiful

The beautiful thing about Black Food Truck Friday during CIAA weekend was witnessing the power of congregation and bringing people together for one purpose. It also served as a reminder that there will be more Black Food truck Friday opportunities in the near future as Spring and Summer approach. With this in mind, there will be more opportunities for locals to try out vendors such as Cuzzos Cusine, Ms. DiDi's Caribbean Kitchen, and many more black owned vendors.

Curated by the Black Businesses of Charlotte group, Black Food Truck Friday has been held at least twice per month during fair weather seasons. Since following the series from its inception, I have been able to witness its growth and establishment as a mecca for black food truck owners to showcase their talent for the Queen city to enjoy.

Mike Palmer is a food aficionado at TTT Media, where he covers culinary arts.

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