Ask the Critic: Beating a dead horse

My last Ask the Critic was all about changing seasons and foods we were looking forward to either A) making at home or B) having Denver's chefs add to their menus once the cold weather settled in permanently. There were a lot of very interesting comments, a lot of wonderful daydreams about hearty stews, fresh breads, scratch-made soups...

But now that the weather's heating up again, so are the comments. So now I'm calling out another hater from the blog, hoping to prove her very, very, very wrong.

Over the weekend, I posted my wrap-up of comments responding to my 1st Annual Cafe Society Poll about Food and Chefs and Stuff.  Or so I thought. But then, as I was innocently scrolling through the comments, I ran across this one from Jackie:

It is true, and very very unfortunate, that the majority of Denver eaters are very uneducated and unadventurous about what they eat. They really don't get it and won't step out of their comfort zone to try something new. Well, what can you expect if 70% of Americans don't even have passports(maybe more have it now since you need a passport to cross over to Canada these days) and have not traveled overseas. Watching Anthony Bourdain eat the stuff he eats is one thing, trying it yourself is another. Unfortunately, majority of Denverites have no guts or sense of adventure when it comes to food. The most daring (and apparently, 'ethnic') foods that this city eats are hamburgers, hot dogs, burritos and westernized version of Kung Pao chicken. Woohoo... how exciting. Until Denverites stop being such wusses and support the new, the weird, the real food folks who are bringing in their beautiful ethnic food, the food scene here will continue to be what it is - boring and pathetic.

It is true, and very very unfortunate, that the majority of Denver eaters are very uneducated and unadventurous about what they eat. They really don't get it and won't step out of their comfort zone to try something new. Well, what can you expect if 70% of Americans don't even have passports(maybe more have it now since you need a passport to cross over to Canada these days) and have not traveled overseas. Watching Anthony Bourdain eat the stuff he eats is one thing, trying it yourself is another. Unfortunately, majority of Denverites have no guts or sense of adventure when it comes to food. The most daring (and apparently, 'ethnic') foods that this city eats are hamburgers, hot dogs, burritos and westernized version of Kung Pao chicken. Woohoo... how exciting. Until Denverites stop being such wusses and support the new, the weird, the real food folks who are bringing in their beautiful ethnic food, the food scene here will continue to be what it is - boring and pathetic.

Really, Jackie?  Hamburgers, burritos and Kung Pao?  That's the most daring stuff we have here?  I am truly at a loss for words...

Oh, wait. No, I'm not. I've got about a million of them, all nicely archived here at westword.com, detailing seven years' worth of adventures through Denver's stranger quarters.  More to the point, I've got a nice gang of friends (and enemies) here online who, I am sure, would be happy to school you about their favorite (and completely un-Bourdainian) adventures through Denver's ethnic neighborhoods, closed communities and immigrant enclaves.

So this week's mission is a simple one: Name the best so-called "weird" food you've had recently and where you got it (in order that we might help Jackie to discover the best Denver has to offer), and then name the one thing you'd like to try that you can't (yet) get here.

I'll go first: Not long ago, I found myself with a big crowd at China Jade in Aurora. These were all fairly adventurous eaters -- guys and girls who love finding the new, the weird and the real wherever it might be hiding. And while we had a fine time going through the special Tianjin-inflected Northern Chinese menu (full of kidneys and eel, tripe wontons and hot pots), what we really wanted was something special. That was when one of our number hit on the idea of simply pointing to one of the Chinese signs hung near the counter and asking to have some -- no matter what it was.  What we got was a delicious casserole of fish in chile oil, dressed in a thick sauce flecked with bits of hot pepper, served in a portion large enough for ten.  It wasn't something that was on the regular menu, wasn't even a plate that'd made the real Chinese menu.  It was just something the kitchen had thrown together as a special for the immigrant clientele, but they were proud as hell to be serving it to us as well.

And the thing I want to try that I can't get here? Chevaline. Yes, horse meat.  I've been curious for a long time.

Now it's your turn.  Comments below, and don't be shy.  Oh, and Jackie?  Just for the record, I don't have a passport right now either...

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