Merlindia and Benethiopia, for the uninitiated, are the nomadic lands of the Fojol Brothers and their wonderful food trucks. I've mentioned the Fojol Brothers in a previous post about Truckeroo, but I wanted to give them a proper shoutout with a post that is entirely about their style and their amazing food.
The Fojol Brothers of Merlindia are one of D.C.'s original and pioneering food trucks. They were actually the first food truck I ever visited, and they really hooked me. Their first truck hails from the mythical land of Merlindia. (You see how it has the word "India" in it?) Their specialty is a daily selection of vegetable and meat curries over rice, and I've yet to find one (the veggie ones of course) that I don't enjoy.
Last year the fine Fojol family added a new truck to their mix, and this new truck is from Benethiopia (Get it, "Ethiopia." Do you see a pattern?). The Benethiopia truck stocks a mix of vegetarian and meat stews served with injera, meant to inspire eating with your hands.
Lucky for my coworkers and me, the Fojol Brothers come to our neck of the D.C. woods most Thursdays (Merlindia) and Fridays (Benethiopia). It's an event many of us look forward to.
Both trucks follow a similar format. Shiny VW bus-like vans with brightly colored panels, brightly painted hubcaps, and speakers with eclectic and upbeat music to entertain the customers waiting in line.
When the trucks arrive, the staff try to get a parking spot near a park or open space where they can lay out their collection of blankets for patrons to lounge while eating their lunches.
In addition to the blankets, they also bring some large hula hoops, just in case you're inspired to breaking into a little hooping fun.
The staff of each truck wears brightly colored jumpsuits with flowing shirts, and the majority don their signature handlebar mustaches (yep, even the ladies of Merlindia have mustaches. You don't see this quite as often with Benethiopia).
But enough about the trucks, ambiance, and staff. Let's talk about the food.
As I said, Merlindia typically offers a selection of three or four vegetable curries and two meat curries. The dishes are available served over basmati rice in a mix and match format of a "pick two" ($7) or "pick three" ($9). If you just want to try, they also offer a "dingo bite" ($2) to sample just the curry.
I stick with the veggie options and they are absolutely delicious. I also have first hand info from friends that the butter chicken is delicious, but I'm here to talk about the veggie curry. There's always a selection of several excellent curries to choose from, be it the mixed vegetables, cauliflower & potatoes, cabbage & chick peas, etc. You can see the whole menu on their website. But quite honestly, my heart skips a beat when I see pumpkin curry on the menu. On those days I sometimes don't worry about mixing and I just grab a pick two of the pumpkin and call it a day. However for the sake of the blog, I got both the pumpkin and chick peas on this fine day.
It's a meal and a half for sure and never leaves me feeling hungry, but I'm always sad when its all gone.
Gladly, the day following Merlindia's visit typically brings Benethiopia to our area. Though my second favorite of the Fojol group (sorry, it's true), I'm still a loyal patron.
The Benethiopia truck offers Ethiopian style cuisine served with spongie injera bread. As with Merlindia, their menu offers a mix and match style "pick 2" or "pick 3" with one meat option and three or four vegetarian choices. For my liking, hands down, I'm always going to get the lentils, then my other veggie will vary by week.
One other important item to note about the Fojol experience are the Lossipops. Though not always on the menu, they are a cool and refreshing $2 treat. I usually eat mine while waiting for my food and on the walk back to the office, I just can't wait until dessert. What's a Lassipop you might wonder?
Think "fresh ingredient natural ice pop." They usually offer flavors like mango and ginger, but I'm always excited to see my favorite, cinnamon & ginger.
No matter the day and place, you almost always see a line at either of the Fojol trucks. They've established a solid and dedicated following that has steadily grown over their time on the D.C. food truck scene. We're quite glad to have them stop by our area on Thursdays and Fridays and hope they will continue to do so for a long time.
What do you think? Does it sound good to you? Anyone else a fan of the food truck craze that's sweeping the nation? Any local favorites that inspire you to chase after these four wheeled wonders?