National Geographic July 2015, Part 1

Seeking the Source of Ebola, by David Quammen, photographs by Pete Muller

Despite the title, the scientists that study ebola aren’t really looking for the source of ebola so much as they are looking for a reservoir species, where the disease hides in between outbreaks. They are as certain as it is possible to be (which means that really persuasive evidence could change their minds) that ebola is not always present in the human population. This means that it must hide in another species.

For most of this article, Quammen focuses on bats. This seems to be a pretty good candidate, since Patient Zero in the most recent outbreak, two-year-old Emile Ouamouno of Guinea, likely caught the illness from a bat. Ouamouno was seen playing in a tree that had a colony of bats days before he became symptomatic. Children also try to catch the bats and then they roast them on a stick and eat them, and that may be what happened to Ouamouno.

And then there’s more about bats as a disease vector for other viruses, including Nipah virus, Hendra virus, and Marburg virus. However, when it all comes down to it, there is no definite evidence that bats are the reservoir species. The reservoir species may be something else, such as an insect or bird.

Food Truck Revolution, by David Brindey, photographs by Gerd Ludwig

A few years ago, they legalized food trucks in San Antonio. A food truck is just like it sounds, a truck that serves food. Generally, the food is cooked on the truck, but there are also trucks that serve premade food such as sandwiches and beverages. And I realized then that there isn’t a lot of street food in San Antonio. This is odd, since street food was a big part of San Antonio history. If you are in the United States, it is likely that you have eaten chili at some point in your life. Chili began as a San Antonio street food. For over a century, from the 1800s until World War II, the “chili queens” would serve chili from tables in the public parks and squares (most notably Alamo Plaza).

Yet that culture died out at some point, perhaps when the focus of business shifted from downtown to the area around North Loop 410. And even today, if you look where the food trucks are, you will see more out by Interstate 10, Loop 1604, and Loop 410 than you will find downtown.

Food Truck Revolution focuses on the origin of the current crop of food trucks — the Kogi BBQ truck of Los Angeles. In 2008 Korean-born Roy Choi opened a food truck serving Korean-flavored Mexican food. From there, Brindey shows us some of the other food trucks of the Los Angeles area.

Despite the proliferation of food trucks in San Antonio, I have really only ever eaten street food while on vacation. Maybe I will have to track down a food truck or two here in San Antonio someday and see what they have to offer.

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