131-133 Dulwich Road
(and other places too)
Until my first bite, I had my reservations about the Meatwagon. In spite of (or perhaps because of) its infrequent appearances in the wild, this plain white van has been cooking up a cacophony of fawning tweets and retweets and blog posts that have had me trying to wipe away the saliva from the inside of my screen. Its devoted followers willingly travel to obscure parts of the city (i.e. South London) and endure long waits before receiving their dinner. I couldn't see myself jumping on the Meatwagon bandwagon. I suspected an internet fad, a fast-food fantasy as disposable as a flash mob. I was so wrong. This is great street food, done the American way.
The thing I love most about the Meatwagon's cheeseburger with bacon is that it's not a gourmet burger. It's sold by a bloke in a van and served on a paper plate. You don't need a knife and fork to disassemble it before consumption. It doesn't come with a side salad. It is never - never! - made out of beans or tofu or lentils. You can't pay a pound extra for beetroot or blue cheese or, for shit's sake, baba ghanoush. I love being able to hold it in two hands, give it a firm squeeze, and taste the whole of the burger.
It's stacked, layered, precisely as tall as the space I can make between my upper and lower lips. The flavours reveal themselves one at a time, like those jawbreaker sweets I taunted my teeth with as a kid, but in rapid succession. The first bite releases the pheromones, a swell of blood and oil softening the bun, some dripping off the edge, giving my plate a rosy translucency. The cheese and mustard, at the top and the bottom respectively, are as American as corn dogs and root beer. Apparently it's not a Kraft Single, this sliced cheese, but to me it looks and tastes just as cheap and yellow and nasty and perfect. The mustard coalesces with the gherkins, the onions and the salty, streaky un-British bacon. As for the main attraction, the protagonist, the star of the show, well, you should read about here because Ibrahim does a much better job of describing it than I ever could. And I fear I'll win a Bad Sex In Non-Fiction award if I even tried.
Let's stop here. I can't see for the saliva on the outside of my screen.