GF Food Trucks – Awko Taco, Cochrane

It takes a special breed of entrepreneur and foodie to bet your professional life on making food for others, and I think the ones who stand to risk the most are those who decide to do this out of the back of a truck.  Small kitchen, small menu, itinerant crowd, no fixed address – and in Alberta, the dead of winter – all conspire against what it takes to become a millionaire in the food truck business.

Probably just as well nobody in that business is realistically aiming for the millionaire thing – and all the better for us the consumers, as there’s a whole lot of passion and real love for food that comes through in the offerings gently handed through the window to the passing sidewalk diner.  What you get is a sublime example of smaller entrees done perfectly – food that satisfies deeply, with every bite, means that you don’t need 300 bites to be satisfied.

With these kinds of restrictions, you’d think it would be especially risky to devote your truck to serving what might be less than 100% of a target audience – but Brian Gebbie’s Awko Taco food truck in Cochrane aims to do exactly that.  Yessir – if you’ve ever driven past a row of these tantalizing vehicles, resigned to the fact that you the celiac are not likely to be able to have anything they offer – I’ve got news for you.  Have a look at this menu:

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Notice the notation halfway down on the left – you got it.  This fantastic little Mexican taqueria on wheels features a 80% Gluten Free menu.  Hold it – is this a gimmick?  How GF can it possibly be, in such tight quarters?  Well, Brian’s got the answers.  There are two things on the taco menu that are not GF – the Texican, which features soy sauce in the marinade for the steak, and the Sharkbait, which features a battered and deepfried cod fillet.  Here’s how Brian controls it – he makes everything, from scratch.  That means the marinade gets made just for the steak, and does not touch anything else.  That also means NOTHING goes in that truck’s deep fryer except the battered cod.  Everything is kept religiously separate.

So – what to eat?  Well – that leaves you with three choices for your lunch entree.  I picked the Tipsy Shrimp and the Pumba.  (Next time, I try the Jerk, with some Street Corn).

Are two of these little guys enough for lunch?  Heck, yeah.  I dunno by what sorcery the Mexicans have devised a means of delivering such a fulfilling and satisfying meal on these 5-inch, handmade disks of cornmeal pleasure, but it works.  Brian’s Awko Taco faithfully follows the two-thousand-year old tradition of handmaking his tacos fresh, every day, from masa cornflour.  That kind of freshness, with that exotic tang of the lime used to bleach the corn, makes the difference, folks.

Now for toppings.  The Tipsy Shrimp are broiled with an orange tequila sauce, and served with a freshly-diced sweet and piquant mango salsa.  The shrimp – even on the plains of Alberta – are to die for.  Plump, juicy, bursting with flavor, and nearly too big to eat in one bite.  The salsa sets them off perfectly – close your eyes, you’re in the Yucatan. Uno más, por favor.

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Pumba.  Not really a Mexican name, as I recall.  Never mind – it’s pulled pork, so as far as I am concerned, you can call it whatever you like.  And serve it with roasted pineapple salsa?  Perfect!  This guy has been schooled in the holy matrimony of fruit and pork!  All these offerings, by the way, are served with a homemade Avocado crema and coleslaw.  As they should be.

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To wash it all down, you could go with plain old water.  After all, nothing need mask the taste of these fine handfuls.  But there’s something about a real cane-sugar Mexican Coke that really crowns this kind of lunch for me.

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It took an effort, but I ate these slowly.  You need to give each bite a chance to dance, to call up all the flavours and sights and memories of Mexico.  And if you’ve never been – let this be your amuse-bouche as you plan your first trip where they make these every day.  As a tour guide to gustatory happiness, Brian Gebbie’s got it down.   You can find him via the usual social media outlets – Awko Taco’s the name for searching – and he primarily sticks to the streets of Cochrane.  Whether by accident or design you find yourself in that charming town – find Awko Taco first, then go get your McKay’s ice cream later.

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Markus Lemke

About Markus Lemke

Amateur foodie, omnivore, and Grampy. Not celiac - but I get to cook for three celiacs in my house, including my wife, the love of my life. Life's too short to eat bad food, so my passion is to make gluten free taste as good as anything the rest of the world eats. (Doesn't always work, but I have a dream...)

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