There was a lot of Twitter ballyhoo over Balut the last few days. A mention of Balut, the Filipino fertilized egg snack, in our January Blog Post on Food Truck Thursday lead to our friend Dak and Smart Kitchen essentially being called out by @HeyJoeTruck and asked on Twitter if we were game to back up our Balut smack talk.
Well, we extol palate building and cultural sensitivity at Smart Kitchen, so in theory we had to be open-minded and sensitive and try a Filipino National Dish. Integrity demanded that we live up to our guiding principles, though to be honest, I wished we could have turned them back into the Ethics Department for a day or two.
In the end, what sold me was that you don’t get to be a sorry old chef with a lot of bad experiences and “What-Not-to-Do’s” to share (over and over and over again) by avoiding challenges. So we fired off a defiant Tweet of acceptance to HeyJoeTruck. It is easy to have ball…er Bravado over Balut safely at your own keyboard. It is also easy to freak yourself out, so to calm our nerves we launched a customized, mini-social media-campaign to try and shame some foodie colleagues and friends into sharing the pain. You also don’t get to be a sorry old chef without learning that misery loves company.
Of all the prospective pitches made, exactly ZERO (a Goose Egg ironically) achieved any traction. The universal refrain was either “No Way” or “H.E.double hockey sticks, No Way!” You kind of lose a molecule or two of respect for your foodie friends, especially the professionals, when they cut & run instead of charging forward. I mean, to use a Filipino reference, MacArthur ran but he “Returned.” I’m talking about 5 Star General of the Army MacArthur, Dak. I didn’t say anything.
So how was the experience? I kind of wish I had some graphic horror story to relate (the visuals were a bit shocking) but after the pre-game panic the game itself wasn’t bad. A Hard Boiled Duck egg with coarse salt and Rice Wine Vinegar in a paper tray. They say you shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch, but what about the ducks in Balut? If you are squeamish, avoid the next 2 images.
As mentioned in the video, our friend Norm was an impromptu CHAMPION, rushing forward with the best of them with humor and good cheer. I filmed Norm’s chow down to avoid “Balut–ing” up my cameras by filming and eating. THANKS NORM. Apparently, the Balut juice tastes like Fish Soup. : ) As you can see in the video, Norm’s Appetizer was also the subject of a few more cameras and IPhones.
For me, my Balut was tough on the eyes and brain but from the Palette’s perspective the rest of the Balut, had the Umami taste of a hard boiled egg, with some Fois Gras thrown in for good measure. I did not run back in line but I did not crawl away retching either.
After the challenge, we were still standing and savored the reward of great Filipino food. Hey Joe Truck’s Braised Pork Belly was well worth it.
The Pork Belly got 3 WOW’s the first round from all the carnivores at the table (the worst part of the whole Balut experience by the way was trying to poach a table) and praise on its visual appeal by the sole vegetarian. The second and third rounds, as the rich pork taste kicked around the taste buds, also evoked 3 WOWS. The Pork Belly is served with a Forbidden Rice mixture and some Julienned Vegetables. Thanks Joe & Brian. Your 15 plus hours of work were a value to at $8.50. Yesterday, you all talked some smack about sharing a recipe or two with our readers. You game to let loose with the braised pork belly recipe?
We’ll be back at the trucks until the sun & heat banishes Food Truck Thursday for the Summer and though we want to try those hot dogs and sausages everyone lines up for, we may not be able to get past the hankering for 15 hour braised pork belly.
Hopefully we will see you there and Whole Foods & The Trucks will scare up some more tables and chairs.
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