The Dish: “Blazin’” chourico
The Location: Piratz Tavern, 8402 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, (301) 588-9001
The Price: $8
The Skinny: With its dime-store Jolly Roger flags tacked to the ceiling, its bogus scimitars nailed to the wall, and its booga-booga human skull glowing in the corner, the Piratz Tavern makes the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland seem like a boat trip through genuine buccaneer history. The tavern’s chourico appetizer is slightly more grounded in flesh-and-blood reality; it’s based on a DIY preparation in Portugal, where diners briefly wave their smoked sausage over an open flame before digging into the spicy pork. At Piratz, however, your porn-star-length link arrives already lounging on a small, clay portable grill. The waiter lights the fuel at the bottom of the grill and proceeds to explain that you should blow out the flames when the previously cooked sausage is sufficiently warmed. The problem is this: The kitchen adds enough fuel under your sausage to keep Buffalo, N.Y., warm during the winter. You can’t help but stare at the flames for a minute or two, but by the time you snap out of your pyro-induced stupor, your link has been scorched—turned, in fact, into a blackened, leathery corpse courtesy of this tabletop funeral pyre. After finally dousing the flames, I transfer my link to the available bowl and try to saw it in half with a steak knife. The slicing requires so much muscle that, after I finally break through the hardened exterior, the force of my movement flips the first piece of pork straight to the floor. I should have just thrown the rest overboard, too. Each bite is a workout for my jaws, as they try to chew through the charred, plasticized casing, only to reach an overly salty and not particularly complex interior. It’s enough to cause a mutiny.