When did pig's ear begin to take over the culinary universe? Was it Eric Frechon's delicate curls of pig's ear on the best-of-hog plate at the Bristol in Paris? The whole deep-fried ear April Bloomfield introduced at the Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village? The spectacular pig's ear banh mi Palate's Octavio Becerra served at the Weekly's Gold Standard event a couple of weeks ago?
With Walter Manzke leaving the bistro Church & State, where his crisp, gooey ears served with bearnaise sauce recalled the souffle potatoes at New Orleans' Galatoire more than they did the actual porcine appendages, one might think that ear lovers would be forced to content themselves with corn. But perhaps not: In Los Angeles, the hills have ears.
Lazy Ox Canteen. Dredged in flour, plunged into hot oil, served like a fancy order of French fries that can eavesdrop on your date. Except when they're served puffier, as ear chicharrones. Fries to eat with Belgian ale. 241 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo; (213) 626-5299.
Chung King. Boiled, but still pretty crunchy, slicked with chile oil, sliced into an almost lapidary display of striated flesh and cartilage. If Fred Tomaselli were going to create a painting with pig's ears instead of marijuana leaves, this is the version he would choose. 1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel; (626) 286-0298.
Animal. A hard ear to crack, almost supernaturally crunchy, tossed with chile and lime and almost hidden under a floppy fried egg. 435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 782-9225.
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Fig. Frisee aux lardons, with fried pig's ear instead of bacon. Isn't life grand? 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 319-3111.
Sapp Coffee Shop. The nam sod, a gray salad of fried peanuts, crumbled pork and slithery boiled pig's ear may not be the most attractive plate of food in Hollywood, but after three bites it will be your god. 5183 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 665-1035.