Chewing the Fat Over Feet

By Alison Fiebig, assistant editor

I can count on one foot how many times I've ate feet. (Only once, if you're wondering.)

Last week, I called on Ger Xiong, the owner of Phonsavan, a southeast Asian restaurant in Appleton (once upon a time Grillin' Steak House). I was fishing for details on his newish eatery for the Food for Thought feature to run in our April issue of the mag.

Around the five minute mark of the interview, the discussion switched to the menu. As it turns out, they serve a handful of traditional Hmong foods. Just after mentioning egg rolls, pho, and pork ribs, Xiong divulges they also serve chicken feet.

It's comically relevant to say that I went a tad cuckoo at this point in the interview. Not because of the mentioned matter, but because knowledge of this would have made a great addition to the fear factor article out now in the March issue, which on that very Thursday was sent to press.

But, being my blog-minded self, I was determined to feed this information to our readers. While trying to remain cool and competent, I explained my predicament to Xiong and asked if I could meet him at the restaurant to finish our interview. He warmly agreed.

I waited for the perfect afternoon lull & hauled you-know-what to Phonsavan. Knowing this assignment was going to kill two birds with one stone (no pun intended), I was in an editorial euphoria. First, I gathered the details for my April piece; second, we chatted chicken... claw and all.

"We're different from an American bar in that instead of serving wings, we serve chicken feet," he says.

In all fairness, chicken is chicken, right? Take it from the girl who doesn't eat beef.

With our dialogue tailing off, Xiong disappeared into the kitchen only to return with a plate of six deep-fried chicken feet. He looked at me, I looked at him, and with an apprehensive half-smile and my brain dispatching words of rejection, I rationalized with one simple theory: "If I'm challenging our readers to eat it, I can, too."

So right there at the bar, I joined Xiong in an afternoon snack. Following an inner pep talk and a quick tutorial on how to eat around the toe bone, I put away my first foot. Just like that! And what would you know––it tastes like chicken (to which my meat-loving friends would reply, "Duh!").

While I didn't get the scoop in time for the article, we're still including Phonsavan's chicken feet in our Clean Plate Challenge.

Choose to dine on the deep-fried appetizer or the Spicy Chicken Feet entrée, served hot with a spicy sauce.

Now is not the time to chicken out. Join the couragous crusade & sign up now for our Clean Plate Challenge! And if not that, at least stop in for a meaty bowl of pho. Tell him Alison sent you.