Years of eating in Colombian restaurants have conditioned my brain and palate to associate the word chicharrón with crispy, fried pork skin. So the first time I saw chicharrón con salsa verde listed as a special at a Mexican spot it provoked a Pavlovian ordering response. The urge to try a plate was further fueled by gloriously greasy sheets of crunchy pork cracklins found at Mexican groceries. Sadly, the chicharrón con salsa verde wasn’t crunchy at all. It was straight-up pork skin, fat and all, cooked until it had a slippery, gelatinous consistency.
Last weekend I had a chicharrón epiphany at La Espiga Café in Corona. There was a lady out front kneading dough for what looked like steroidal tortillas, below a sign that read “especial de hoy: gorditas de chicharrón.” For some reason all those Taco Bell commercials have prevented me form ordering a gordita before, but the specimens she was churning out looked damn good. Rather than slippery pork skin, the disks of masa de harina were filled with crunchy chicharrón among other things. This is something I could eat every day.
Inside the saucer-shaped disk of corn was crumbled crunchy pork skin, lettuce, cilantro, crema and crumbled Mexican cheese. Doctored up with a little hot sauce, it was hog heaven. As much I’d like to eat the gordita de chicharrón at La Espiga Café on a daily basis, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s only available on weekends.
La Espiga Café
103-02A Roosevelt Avenue, Corona NY 11368 (map) 718-533-1260
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