Saturday, June 16, 2012

Smoking out those Notorious P.I.G.S.

Brass*Knuckle's Notorious P.I.G.
I not only follow San Francisco's Off the Grid, but also -- vicariously -- London's equivalent, Eat Street.  I was somewhat startled to find that one of Eat Street's vendors, Anna Mae's Southern Street Food stall offered a creation called the "Notorious P.I.G." That, of course, is also the name of a signature creation of a popular San Francisco food truck, Shellie Kitchen's Brass*Knuckle.  The two are very different creations, the former being conventional BBQ and Brass*Knuckle's being basically a Cubano on a rosemary waffle, but my suspicious mind wondered if coincidence or copycat-ism were at play here.

Photo Flickr/Indiana Public Media
Upon further reflection, I reminded myself that "great minds think alike" and wondered how many hand-held eats were graced with this fairly obvious pun for a name.  I decided to do a little research, using a Flickr search on "Notorious P.I.G." (hey, if it's worthy of a foodie's attention, it's been photographed in situ). It turns out that there at least nine creations out there dubbed "Notorious P.I.G." ranging from panini to to pizza and wraps. Here are the highlights of my research, and if it makes you hungry, head out to the nearest BBQ or street food event.

Notorious P.I.G.S. of the World

- Brass Knuckle, the San Francisco food truck, serves a basic Cubano with house-roasted pork, ham and Swiss on a rosemary waffle as its "Notorious P.I.G."

- Anna Mae's, the London food stall, describes its "Notorious P.I.G." as pulled pork topped with a proprietary BBQ saiuce on a roll.

Frank, a restaurant in Austin, Texas gets creative with a house-made pork, bacon, jalapeno and sage sausage topped with macaroni and cheese and Texas BBQ sauce on a baguette.

- Sugar Shack, a barbecue trailer also in Austin, offers 12-hour smoked pulled pork in a sandwich or in a "wrap" (photos suggest tortillas).

- Il Bambino, a restaurant in Astoria, New York, goes haute with a panini containing scrambled eggs, smoked bacon, "artisan" cheddar and truffle spread.

- The Happy Pig, a food truck in Bloomington, Indiana's "Notorious P.I.G" features cured and braised pork topped with maple syrup and a sunnyside up egg on house made sliced bread

- The Notorious P.I.G., an eponymously named BBQ restaurant chain in Phoenix, Arizona, offers a conventional smoked pulled pork topped with blue cheese slaw on a bun

- We the Pizza, a pizzeria in Washington, DC apparently offers a "Notorious P.I.G. Pizza." No description of the toppings can be found on the restaurant's web side , but a Flickr photo caption describes it as a "BBQ" topping.

- Pork Belly Grub Shack in Sacramento, California, offers a "Notorious P.I.G. Burger" which is not pork at all (despite the restaurant's name) but a conventional beef cheeseburger topped with pork rinds and "belly sauce" on a ciabatta roll.

It's not clear who put the name "Notorious P.I.G." in play first, though photo dating suggests it was either the Austin sausage restaurant of the Phoenix chain (both were documented in late January, 2010).

There's a Charlie Mingus recording called "Gunslinging Bird." Mingus used to explain at his live performances that the full title of the song was "If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats."  I don't know if the originator of the "Notorious P.I.G." menu moniker is a gunslinger (though its probable Phoenix or Texas origin gives one pause), but let's hope he or she is more intent on slinging porky goodness than bullets or trademark lawsuits.

Now, on to my favorite rock band, Notorious MSG.