I remember an Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode (pretty sure it was Indonesia) where Tony couldn’t stop praising the perfection of pig. Roasted pig, to be precise. I get hungry just thinking about it.
Problem is, I don’t eat pork. Except when I do. When I don’t, it’s because – despite being the other white meat – I’ve heard too many doctors deride its healthfulness. Even more difficult to swallow is the fact that pigs are actually incredibly intelligent (most experts put them on the same level of intelligence – or higher – as the brightest among man’s best friends). Yet factory farming conditions are beyond brutal for these little piggies, and when you add up this info, the natural conclusion is that pigs are tortured – and are smart enough to realize they’re miserable. That’s enough to put me off bacon for life.
When I do eat pork, it’s as a delicious indulgence and generally under conditions where I know the pigs were raised in a humane environment and weren’t pumped full of a pharmacy’s worth of meds. If I’m going to eat pig, you see, I prefer it to be Happy Pig – the kind that is allowed to frolic freely in fields of daisies, routing through the muck on their own terms before being cut down in the cement room of some cold, barren, windowless slaughterhouse somewhere…
I tried to put all of this aside when trying the Flying Pig truck.
All of my hypocrisy aside, this little piggy tastes awesome. I started with the braised pork belly with red onion escabeche and sesame cucumber. Served on a Chinese bun (think Peking duck), the close-up photo I took looked way too much like lady parts to post on this site, but the flavor (of the appetizer – no idea about lady parts), was incredible and amazing. Maybe a little too much fat for my taste, but it’s hard to order pork belly and not expect a healthy serving of pre-processed lard. Certainly it was tasty enough to think about trying again…is it possible to order pork belly a little on the lean side? (Of course I kid).
I split the rest of my lunch with my ex-husband (cuz I care about humane living conditions for pigs and exes, in almost equal measure). On the menu was one of each of their tacos of the day: grilled beef short rib with oyster mushroom and death sauce; spicy pork with green papaya and cilantro cream; tamarind duck with toasted almond and pickled beet salad and smoked chicken with green curry and napa slaw.
Is it pretentious to call something “obnoxiously good?” May I do it anyway? Man, this was delicious. A great balance of flavors and textures. Terrific spice. Absolutely one of the best things I tried off the truck. And I don’t say that about just anything.
The spicy pork taco packs a big, flavorful punch. So powerful, in fact, that the meat is a little overwhelmed by the super spicy sauce. Although, to be fair, I could eat the sauce with a spoon. It’s spicy, but not in a frat-boy-hazing-prank kind of way. There is an incredible balance and richness (I bet it’s called butter). The sauce is rich, luxurious and hot as hell. The meat just wasn’t good enough to stand up and be counted against this powerhouse. And, like with the pork belly bun, it was also a little too fatty for my comfort zone (comfort zone here meaning that area underneath the waistband of my jeans that wishes to remain chafe-free).
Is this picture blurry because I was shaking with the anticipation of scarfing down my duck taco faster than a super-spy trying to swallow the world’s last antidote for some potent poison? Why, yes. In fact, it is. The duck tamarind taco is a divine combination of roasted (?) duck, tangerine, watercress, toasted almonds, beet salad and magic. A lot of magic. And some love.
Lastly – in a culinary upset no doubt upsetting to fowl near and far – the chicken in this taco tasted like pork. Tender, juicy deliciousness. The smoked chicken taco is supersaturated with loads of savory stuff, and at $2.75, you definitely get your money’s worth (prices are higher than listed on the website). Unfortunately, aside from the flavor of the meat, I found this taco to be a little on the bland side. It was big and innovative and I loved everything about it…except for the fact that it just didn’t taste like anything.
Or maybe it’s that the grilled beef and the tamarind duck were so good, the spicy pork and the pork-flavored chicken just couldn’t compare. Which is a good thing for me, because it makes repeat visits to the Flying Pig truck not something to schedule when pigs fly.
Incidentally, I washed all of this down with a Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew I just happened to have on hand, and – lemme tell you – the pairing could not have been more perfect. Just a suggestion, porcine pilots… It really was a truly divine taste combination.