How to Eat Pigs' Feet
I will eat almost anything—except human babies, and, honestly, even that would be negotiable were I on the verge of starvation and they were, of course, braised in enough butter. So when Eddie Huang told VICE that he was changing the menu at BaoHaus, where he's going to be sampling pigs' feet cooked in scallions, ginger, garlic, soy, rice wine, and rock candy (yes, rock candy) served over rice, alongside his grandmother’s recipe for Dong An chicken, I put on my stretchiest pants to live a night of Taiwanese street-food heaven and pure gluttony.
Anticipating these pigs' feet was honestly half the fun, kind of like everything leading up to sex is always half the fun. The best form of food foreplay: a noodle soup that I only realized was spicy when it left my lips tingly and puckered, like those minty lip balms. (Hey, if I was about to make out with a pig—even just its feet— it only made sense that I properly prep my lips.) Next on the seduction menu was one of those perfectly fluffy pork buns, perfectly balanced between crispy and fatty pork meat. The pigs’ feet and the Dong An chicken finally arrived, like a long-awaited orgasm waiting to be had on the plate. I couldn’t wait any more, and I just had to dive in. I wanted to lose my pigs’-feet virginity right there at BaoHaus, and I did it in the messiest, sloppiest, oiled up way possible. It seemed like the nice thing to do to write step-by-step instructions, in case you find yourself in a similar, food-porn situation:
1.) Set the mood (preferably with some '90s gangster rap).
Don’t pretend like you don’t play food mood music because you do. It’s a special time, eating pig’s feet for the first time. Obviously, the best choice would be something classy like DMX’s “Stop Being Greedy” or Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz’s “Play No Games,” which both happened to be playing at the BaoHaus. I wouldn’t write this off as a bad musical choice. If anything, I felt like Eddie wanted to transport me to Taiwan, where—like in any foreign country—bad American music from a decade ago is still playing.
2.) Use your fingers.
Put down those forks and don’t try to be fancy with chopsticks. Pigs’ feet have four levels of amazing to them. And you will need to use your God-given utensils to properly enjoy them. You don’t use props when you’re about to get down and dirty with someone for hte first time—you just press your fingers into their flesh, and that’s exactly what you should be doing with these. Rip right into the meatiest part. Eat that by itself. It’s a cross between the dark, dark meat of a baby duck and the dark, dark part of the pig. It’s greasy, yes, but it’s also the most flavorful thing you’ll ever put in your mouth.
3.) Enjoy the fat.
Speaking of putting things in your mouth, the fat is the best part. (Or, so Eddie tells me.) There is the skin, the textured fat, and the smooth fat that kind of looks like the more familiar pork belly. Pay attention to the fat, don’t neglect it. Suck on it. Bite on it. Just have your way with it. Pull it apart and mix it with the rice. You’ll be glad you did.
4.) Get sweet with it.
My first true love is butter, but a close second is anything deep fried. I’m not sure if this counts as dessert, but I want to write about how wonderful the "coffin boa fried chicken" was. It’s the Chinese answer to fried chicken, and really, this is not an answer, this is more of a bitch slap, an in-your-face, we-did-it pep rally for deliciousness. The bread is sweet, as if a doughnut had been soaked in sweetened condensed milk. Instead of Dracula inside Eddie's "coffin" bread, you’ll find something else that's dead but still sexy—fried chicken. It’s the perfect ending to an evening devoted to eating pure pig fat.
5.) Buy a muumuu.
After eating all that fatty, delicious pork. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be spending the summer in something that looks like a muumuu or a teepee. I took no small amount of pride in the fact that it took me 15 minutes to put on my jeans the very next day, and I had to wear the biggest T-shirt I could find. But isn’t that what happens after you find true love, anyways? You completely let yourself go.
Eddie Huang will be changing the menu at BaoHaus monthly.
238 E 14th Street
New York, NY 10003