October 21, 2012 by Emily Pergament
When we humans, civilized and mighty, compare ourselves to our beastly cousins, we may think of the refined way in which we eat as a clear, if superficial, difference. We sit down with a series of metal tools increasingly perfected over the centuries, place a napkin on our laps or at least not too far out of reach, transfer food to mouth in small increments, and chew 32 times.
Man did not always live in such a civilized manner. We were once warrior-hunters, racing across the open plains on horseback or on foot, bringing down mammoths and bears to feed and clothe our families. We would return to the cave, prepare the meat over an open flame, and eat it with our bare hands, blood dripping from the corners of our mouths. This is the history of humanity.
At Crazy Legs, which recently debuted at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, hand-held meat is not a thing of the past. It is very real, very present and very delicious.
On our fifth (or was it sixth?) visit to the Williamsburg waterfront’s weekly foodfest, I noticed something different as Emily and I surveyed the vendors and the crowd. There were people, mostly young men, walking around with turkey legs in their hands. Now these were not your normal Thanksgiving bird limbs. They were huge, and coated in a golden layer of spices that basked in the setting sun like the sparkling ocean on a clear day. I knew I had to have one.
We went up to the Crazy Legs booth, where Emily politely inquired about the $6 “Gobbler” sandwich while I scrounged for the best ten bucks I have ever spent. She handed me a massive turkey leg. I grabbed it with both hands to be sure I would not drop it. This was not an issue for long because its wait diminished rapidly as I tore the meat from the bone.
The turkey was juicy, and the spices were a perfect mixture of salty and sweet. The skin was crisped to perfection. I happily drove my face into the meat as we continued to walk around.
In between bites, I began to notice something. As I walked, I felt the eyes of many men following me, their mouths slightly agape at what they were seeing. I suddenly realized what it must feel like to be an attractive women, with salivating men staring me down at every corner. Of course, they were not looking at me – they were looking at the turkey leg. I excitedly told anyone who showed a remote interest in it how delicious it was, and where they could get one of their own. More than a few people immediately went over to Crazy Legs for a second look.
I hope the success of Crazy Legs is a forerunner to a return to more handheld meat. Our friends joked about buying handheld brisket or pulled pork, but this was mere tomfoolery, time that would have been better spent locating the next source of aviary glory.
Delicious turkey leg, you accomplished many things – you helped me reconnect with my ancestral caveman past. You helped me connect with my fellow man. And you made my mouth very, very happy.