Today is Bronx Flavor day of 93 Plates. I talked with Dave Cook of Eating in Translation and told him I wanted to do everything in NYC, including the Bronx. He admitted that the only person to steward me along on this culinary tour of the city north of The City would be The Baron (pic). He’s famous all over the Bronx culinary scene for his show.
The Plato Loco (pic) is a selection of all the best of what Cuchifrito’s has to offer; Ear, Tongue, and Blood Sausage (above), Chicken Gizzard Salad (pic), and Mangu (below). If you can get past what this stuff is made out of, it all tastes pretty damn good.
I haven’t had black pudding in a good long time (May 7th, 2007 to be exact – Irish Breakfast at Mul’s diner in Southie), so I went for this bite first. The first taste was a bit more black than I wanted it to be, so I grabbed a forkful of the Mangu (mashed yuca here, sometimes mashed plantains or other starchy things) and mixed up the next bite. Gorgeous. Creamy yuca and the unctuous sausage made sweet breakfast love in my mouth. The rest of the meal would be 100% unrecognizable to any WASP as an actual breakfast. I mean, the rest of the plate with the blood sausage had tounge and ears; I thought the blood sausage was the regular part.
The ears were a whole experience I’d never had before. Skin on the outside, a little meat, all sandwiching together the al dente cartilage. I always eat everything that can be eaten off my chicken wings. If you and I ate chicken wings together, I believe that there would actually be half a chicken wing left on the bones you discard. I love to get all the cartilage off the bones as I eat. When I bit into the pig ear, It was a familiar sensation, but a new animal with new flavors to find. I would encourage you all to try pig ears.
The tongue is Baron’s favorite part of an animal (second to goat marrow, but we’ll talk about that later). It tasted like a juicy, bloody, just a bit more firm roast beef.
I’d tried my hand at some gizzards earlier this year and tried them fried and breaded; they weren’t bad, but they were nothing special. These gizzards were large and moist; the sweetness of the onions and bananas balancing the tart vinegar they’d bathed in.
Here’s my first taste of the Baron:
Always classy, always suave. I commented that his character was kind of a goofy pimp; he claims the guy is a naive Casanova. He would know better, but the description in my mind was too far off; we apparently have different ideas of what pimps are, he being from the Bronx and me from the ‘burbs. Either way, he’s into food and discovery. He let me know there was a voodoo woman in Queens that I could meet if I wanted to get in touch with the netherworld or needed something exorcised … He canoed down the Bronx river … He likes to take lots of alternate routes home to see if there’s anything interesting to eat around. Bronx Flavor is all about finding local restaurants indicative of the culture of the area, and that’s why it’s the perfect start to this journey.
Two different cuts of meat that I’d never tried before this meal, the blood sausage I haven’t had in years, and gizzards way tastier than I’d ever created.
Not the most conventional suburban white-boy breakfast, but you know I’ll eat anything. For the rest of you, 188 Restaurant Cuchifrito’s is a great place to break down some of those foodie fears.
Guest Writer: Baron Ambrosia
The IRL Arts Foundation and The Wandering Foodie thank 188 Restaurant Cuchifrito for providing this meal.
188 Restaurant Cuchifrito
158 E 188th Street
Bronx, NY 10468