Chow, Baby: Wednesday, May 1, 2003
Currying Favor

In the last month, half a dozen people recommended Magic Springroll as “a Chow, Baby kind of place,” and Chow, Baby was starting to get offended. All the conversations went the same way. Insulting person: “You ought to try Magic Springroll up in Watauga.” Chow, Baby: “Oh, is it good?” IP: “I’ve never gone in. But it looks like a place you would love.” And what is that supposed to mean?

A divey-looking place that serves great, cheap grub, apparently. Magic Springroll shares a small concrete building and gravel parking lot with an Allstate agent on Watauga Road just east of 377. The half-dozen tables are filled at lunch with Wataugans enjoying fresh, delicious Thai and Laotian specialties. And cheap! Chow, Baby, who is counting its pennies these days, laid out just 85 of them for a gorgeous spring roll of rice, cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, and morsels o’ shrimp rolled in thick rice paper; a light peanut sauce for dipping made a beautiful finish. Another 85 pennies bought a Thai-style eggroll, small but perfect in its fresh-fried crunchiness. Thai fried rice ($4.95) had the standard bits of carrot, green onion, and scrambled egg, plus bits of beef and drippings for fab flavor.

Salads and entrées fall into one price range ($4.95-$5.95) and two categories: curry dishes and noodle dishes. The curries, red or green, include chicken or beef simmered in coconut milk with basil leaves or eggplant or potatoes. The noodle dishes (thin glass or fat chow fun) are made with beef, chicken, shrimp, or squid; salads are finished with cilantro and lime juice, entrées with vegetables and garlic. All of the dishes are great, and most are large enough for leftovers. Ugly, cheap, and scrumptious — a Chow, Baby kind of place indeed.

Kick-Ass from Kinkster

Chow, Baby had to check its rule book for this rare situation. Section 167.43: Position on Celebrity-Made or -Endorsed Food Products: Opposed. Exceptions: (i) if the celebrity actually created the recipe; (ii) if the profits go to a worthy charity; and/or (iii) if the celebrity is best known for the songs “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Proud to Be an Asshole from El Paso.”

Yup, Kinky Friedman brought his dreadlocks, Little Jewford (one of the original Texas Jewboys), and a few hundred cases of his Private Stock Salsa and Dip to Central Market last week. Chow, Baby got his autograph and a jar of each of his salsas ($2.99, also available at Whole Foods): Politically Correct, middle-of-the-road, not too hot but not too mild; Black Hat Edition, black bean and corn with chunks of tomatoes, onions, and peppers; Lone Star Caviar, a black-eyed pea salsa; and Pickin’ and Grinnin’, a peach salsa. They’re “based on” Kinky’s own recipes, and his share of the proceeds benefits the Utopia Rescue Animal Ranch. Most important, the salsas fall under exception (iv): They’re damn good. Go buy some. Kinky would thank you very much.

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