What could be better than walking into a restaurant and seeing something new on the menu? Well, I guess that thing being not poisonous and actually also good-tasting, but still — there’s something in novelty. As of tonight, I’m stoked on the menu at Animal. Even though it changes daily, the current sample seems promising: from interesting riffs on the familiar (flatiron steak with sunchoke hash and truffle parmesan fondue) to unusual (rabbit legs, potato puree, mustard, bacon, green beans and chanterelles) to “I’m ordering this so the table next to me thinks I’m cool” (pig ear, chili, lime, fried egg). But then I got stuck on this one: grilled octopus, chorizo and chowchow. Chowchow? Really? I know the protein is usually listed first in any dish description, but maybe the good chefs at trying to downplay the presence of dog in their menu?
No, of course not. I’m just a rube. Though the initial search for “chowchow” didn’t do much to put my suspicious to rest, a search for “chowchow food” made it better. Depending on where you’re eating, chowchow can refer to a North American pickle relish made from some combination of green tomatoes, cabbage, chayote and other vegetables, but it can also be a Chinese preserve of fruits, peels and ginger. The former can also be called piccalilli. The latter does not have an alternate name, but I really wish it did, just so it didn’t reinforce those connections between Chinese food and dog meat — the meat of a Chinese dog, no less — that I’m not supposed to think about and certainly don’t want to think about when I’m ordering.
But now we know.