Have Your Lunch (And Eat It Too)

Artist creates pop up lunch tables to solve the problem of eating street food

You can now buy pretty much anything your heart desires from the side of a truck, thanks to the city's latest dining obsession, but the problem remains: How to eat it? Mill about? Eat and walk? Take it back to your desk?

In an attempt to solve this problem, Ali Pulver, an artist and graduate student at Pratt, is creating a series of, what she calls "mobile eating devices" designed to make street eating a little more comfortable and turn public spaces--like sidewalks--into "lively places to eat lunch."

Her Fire Hydrantable, which Midtown Lunch tested out on Friday, puts those hydrants to work during the 99.9% of the time that they are not being used, to, you know, save lives and keep the city from turning into a giant pile of ash. Ask yourself: How many times has your apartment building been on fire versus how many times you have needed a place to put your coke while you eat your slice? Exactly.

Okay, so it is not likely that even Bloomberg, who has popped up tables and chairs in the middle of busy intersections by Madison Square Park and Times Square would be on board with the Fire Hydrantable, but how about Lunch Ledges? Small magnetic shelves that can be adjusted to any height on a light post creating a convenient place to chow on those truck tacos.

Or, for those who like to bring their lunch, the Hammock Bag: a lunch bag that becomes a seat when you open it up and attach each end to a chain-link fence.

Pulver has staged several Pop Up Lunches--public art meets practicality--throughout the city to gauge and document New Yorkers' reactions.  Most people seem to think it is a pretty good idea, but of course there are skeptics. One man in Brooklyn was concerned that bird droppings would pose an unappetizing problem and another man wondered if they were really necessary at all.

"What is the difference between this [the shelf] and this [the top of a phone booth]?" he asks. Well, sir, not everyone is as tall as you are, but the point is well taken. Does the city need more surfaces?

Think about it next time you are clumsily trying to enjoy your four-course food-truck meal.

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