Street Food Profiles: Lefty's Silver Cart in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Note: Penny Cherubino of BostonZest took a day off from covering the produce at the Boston farmers' market to chat with Philip "Lefty" Francis of Lefty's Silver Cart at the Harvard University farmers' market. —The Mgmt.

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Photographs by Penny Cherubino

Name: Lefty's Silver Cart, a progressive food cart.
Vendor: Philip Francis (aka Lefty!)

Location/hours? Look for Lefty's at the following venues: Harvard University Farmers' Market in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, and the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, New York.

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What's on the menu? Local, organic, fair-trade and cheerful soups and sandwiches. When we serve at farmers' markets we try to buy as many of our ingredients as possible on the spot from the farmers. We turn these into delicious sandwiches and soups, and promote the farmers to our customers.

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Lefty's Silver Cart always draws a crowd and the hoola hoop stands ready for the next customer.

Special Feature: All grilled specialty sandwiches come with free use of hoola hoop. For a haiku add 50ยข. Sandwiches include:

Granny-Be-Good: Grilled sourdough from Iggy's with sharp cheddar cheese, Granny Smith apple, and a side of dark Taza chocolate.

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The Renegrade: Grilled sourdough bread from Iggy's with pepper jack cheese, arugula, and tomato, with a side of conichons (those yummy little pickles) and stoneground mustard.

The Lil' Kim-Chi: Pan de mie from Iggy's bread with sharp cheddar, kim-chi, with side of black beans.

The Phillini: Grilled pan de mie bread from Iggy's with tomato, pesto, mozzarella.

The Elvis: Grilled hearty country white with peanut butter and bananas and a side of fluff.

Soups: Gazpacho, Harvest Vegetable, Tomato Basil

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Lefty's bread comes from Iggy's, a local artisan bakery.

How long have you been street fooding? This is our third summer of operation. It's a seasonal business.

Why a mobile business over brick-and-mortar? "It's a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom" (of David Lynch's Wild at Heart). So we can drive north if the bird flu comes in. And, less overhead.

What were you doing before this? I am currently a doctoral student in religion and society at Harvard, and finishing my dissertation. Grilled cheese by day, Nietzsche by night.

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What makes your food so special? Can anything else like it be found in the city? Concentration. The architecture of the sandwich. The perfect diagonal cut. The soup spoons are made from sugar cane.

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This customer ran out of money, so she tipped the crew in strawberries!

How would you define "street food"? For nomads by nomads. Now you see me, now you don't.

The best street food city and why. Portland, Oregon, is tops. Austin, Texas, has some good stuff too. New York City is coming on strong.

Your comfort food after a long day? Pad Thai.

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Advice for an aspiring vendor? Get there early. Avoid acute grill-eye. Have inside jokes at the expense of the customer. Buy beers for your crew after work.

About the author: Publisher of BostonZest.com, Penny Cherubino is a perpetual student of food, wine, cheese and the good things in life. She loves cooking, dining out and being part of the Boston food community.

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