The Poor Porker – Lakeland, FL
What is the definition of insanity? Is it trying the same thing over and over, getting the same results, while continuing to expect a different outcome? If so, then my town has gone crazy when it comes to constantly revisiting already established cuisines. Maybe I am wearing blinders, but all I’ve seen lately is chain steakhouses popping up…until now. A shining light has brightened Lakelands dreary food landscape. Its beam burns bright, by way of a pieced together food cart and beignets that are to die for.
The Poor Porker (run by Jarrid Masse and Robyn Wilson) started out serving two things since opening for business a few months ago. beignets and Chicory coffee. You might not think that’d be enough to garner interest. You might also pronounce goose liver “fog wah”. However, you might understand that if a merchant does just a few things, but does them very well, they don’t need to try to impress with a massive menu. Have you ever heard of Cafe du Monde? I’m sure you have. They serve beignets and chicory coffee, but the Poor Porker is anything but a copy cat. They do their own thing. I’m not even doubting myself for a second when I say, they do it better.
They come with the traditional powdered sugar, but they also have a couple of knockout punches. The title track “Poor porker” is drizzled with maple syrup, sprinkled with a touch of salt, topped with a generous amount of home-made bacon bits, then finished with powdered sugar. Obviously, I had to sample this amazing concoction. There are also other specialty beignets that they switch between from time to time, one uses the flavors of olive oil and citrus, as well as homemade caramel for the next limited edition batch at Saturdays farmers market.
I’m not sure which I liked the most. Was it the food, or did the people behind counter that impressed me the most? The moment you walk up, you will probably have to wait in a short line before being greeted by Robyn’s warm smile. After taking your order you can schmooze about how she met chef Jarrid, starring in a short-lived food related reality show on the syfy channel. Jarrid said he thought nobody watched it, I think he was just being humble. They love talking about their cross-country journey that led them to where they are now, one that I’m sure consisted of hours of prep, waking up before dawn to set up the stand. I have to drive by their corner on my way to work at 6:30 am and they always are there before I pass.
As I waited for my first taste of heaven at 9:30 am, I remembered watching people in front of me, ecstatically scampering away to their respective tables and benches. Kind of like Newman did when he finally got his jambalaya from the soup Nazi. When it was my turn to join in, I quickly understood why everyone’s eyes were rolling to the back of their heads. As Robyn handed me my order I walked away to savor the special moment. At first bite, I knew my life had changed forever. I knew that I never needed to worry about what I was going to eat on Saturday mornings for the rest of my existence. I knew I was going to need to do laundry more often now, due to the massive powdered sugar explosions on my shirt and pants. I knew my coworkers might be jealous of how I smelled like cured pig and sweet tree sap. I gladly accept my new lot in life.
If you don’t want to wait, I suggest you go early, say around 8 am on saturday morning. If you wait till 10, the line starts getting a little long. If you procrastinate and come at noon, you will get to spend some time with a sizable crowd. However, the best things in life are worth waiting for. There’s a reason why there are lines around the block at a place like Hot Doug’s in Chicago, Grimaldi’s pizza in Brooklyn, and now the Poor Porker in the thriving mega-metropolis of Lakeland, FL. The word is spreading. You would be insane to pass on The Poor Porker. I give it my highest recommendation and will see you Saturday, I’ll be the guy drooling at the front of the line.