Inside Wilde Thyme: The Baltimore Food & Art Truck by Angela Carroll
A new venture from Wilde Thyme Baltimore, a catering company based in Charles Village/ Remington, hopes to pair locally sourced, organically grown food with creative goods from local artists and artisans in Baltimore City. Taking a note from the brilliant model famously employed by the Taharka Bros—who provide delicious ice cream and radical literature to neighborhoods throughout the city—Wilde Thyme seeks to offer Mexican-Greek fusion treats and a diversely curated selection of visual art works. The company also aims to have accessible price points to those starved of organic foods and imaginative creations.
About a month ago, project creator Kiah Gibian sent out a massive blast to local artists asking them about potential collaborative opportunities. The message included an invite to a brainstorming session where artists could sample foods from the menu and contribute ideas about how art and food could be combined and distributed in creative ways. Most of the artists who responded to the invitation are Gibians’ close friends or associates.
While I did not know Gibian, I decided to attend to ask her more details about the project.
Gibian grew up in Washington DC, but has lived and worked with various restaurants, food trucks and farm-to-table educational initiatives in Baltimore City for years. I asked her what inspired her to start an art food truck.
“I felt like I wanted to do more than just turn a profit on food; I wanted to expand,” Gibian said. “I appreciate the spaces that are not classrooms or offices for people to gather around. Art is a really interesting way for people to connect. There is a lot of storytelling and self-expression and for me it’s related to self-care.”
I am intrigued by the connections Gibian draws between food accessibility, art and social change. At the dinner Gibian posed two major questions, “How do you envision art being mobile?” and “In what ways could a relationship with Wilde Thyme benefit you as an artist (and vice versa)?”
The principle model of the truck centers the importance of partnering with Baltimore based businesses, farms, artists, and other local interested parties to sustain accessibility efforts.
Gibian actively seeks out community relationships, encourages her team to volunteer with local farms and frequently requests suggestions from community members.
I asked Gibian what neighborhoods the truck would frequent. “I would love to have a relationship with Waverly,” she said. “There are so many after-school programs and urban farms. [I] will partner with Whitelock farm [and] would love to visit neighborhood association meetings and be a part [of them]. It’s hard because I don’t want to just pop in, I want to get to know the neighborhood and really introduce myself before really committing to something.”
I appreciate that Wilde Thyme functions more like a mobile think tank than a food truck, and the endless possibilities this presents are incredibly inspiring.
Wilde Thyme is still in its beginning stages, and has just recently started selling food and small artworks from the truck. Right now the Mexican-Greek flavor profiles in their shifting menu are representative of the foods Gibian has the most experience preparing, and the few options I sampled were pretty delicious.
Breakfast starters remain traditional; grits, eggs, and meat options. I tried the Bagel Breaky Sandwich, an open face sandwich loaded with cream cheese, scrambled egg, caramelized onions, and seasonal greens. If you’re a meat eater, you can add locally sourced sausage or bacon. I also sampled some of the lunch offerings; a falafel wrap with a spring salad and a yummy in-house-made tzatziki.
A wide range of artistic mediums were present and active in the discussion at the dinner; ceramicists, illustrators, photographers, jewelry makers, muralists, writers, fiber artists and weavers. Many of the more fantastical ideas, like converting the truck into a site specific performance space, have been tabled, but the more immediate art options are purposefully incorporated into the trucks décor and utility.
The menus for the food options are individual works of art. Each food item on the menu has an accompanying tarot-inspired card with an illustration or collage work representation of the food item and a brief description.
I am excited to see how contributions from the artists expand, and how creative Wilde Thyme becomes while presenting those works in alignment with its mission to make locally grown foods more accessible.
I asked Gibian what her ultimate hopes for Wilde Thyme is. “If I can get it right, and I feel like the truck itself is a guinea pig to test if this can work, I would love to share that information so that there can be more female-owned trucks, more people of color owned trucks,” Gibian said. “I [asked] Amy the fiber artist I was having a convo with, in her wildest dreams what would you do with this model and she said she would have a mobile art gallery. I hope that I’m not the last truck that can figure this out.”
To learn more about the food truck, become a participating artist, or learn about where the food truck will be posted, visit wildethymebaltimore.com.
Photos courtesy of Wilde Thyme on Instagram