IMAGE: Matt Wong
"You've never had chitlins?!? Girl, you ain't lived yet." That's John Tolbert, the Wichita, Kan.-born co-founder of Po'Shines Cafe De La Soul, Kenton's soul food shack-cum-community rec room run by the neighborhood's Celebration Tabernacle church. And Tolbert (pictured above) really likes chitlins, otherwise known as pig intestines, a Southern dish rarely—if ever—served in Portland eateries. This Friday and Saturday, Tolbert and his brother (and co-cafe creator and church pastor) E.D. Mondainé celebrate the third anniversary of Po'Shines with a Crawfish & Chitlins Feed and Fundraiser, featuring 200 pounds of tender red mudbugs and 400 pounds of intestines. Tolbert, who runs the catering half of the cafe and oversees its tasty smoked meat specialties as well, says they're planning on boiling up traditional hog maws (stomach) and chitlins, a big vat of "chitlin chili," "cheese and chitlins" and fried chitlins, as well as spicy boiled crawfish and étouffée. The cafe, which is already a local favorite for its giant chicken wings and tender, honey-kissed hush puppies, doubles as an outpost of the church's Teach Me to Fish program, a nonprofit that offers job training to at-risk youth and young adults. Funds raised from the chitlins fest will support the work program, as well as Tabernacle's 88-Keys music education program and other nonprofit endeavors. But really, that's all just a feel-good excuse to brave a real Southern classic with a terrifying rep. "While [chitlins are] cookin', oh my god, yeah, it smells like death. The secret is to put a whole potato in [the pot] to filter it," Tolbert confides. "But chitlins are like escargot...don't knock 'em until you try 'em.".
EAT: Po'Shines' Crawfish & Chitlins Feed and Fundraiser takes place at Po'Shines Cafe De La Soul, 8139 N Denver Ave., 978-9000. 11 am-10 pm Friday-Saturday, Nov. 5-6. Free, but donations are encouraged. For info or to reserve your plate, call or email email@example.com.
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