‘Pony Baloney’ and ’36-Hour Cow Head’ Among the Many Googa Mooga Spectacles

05.21.12 Justin Durazzo

Prospect Park’s “The Great Googa Mooga”–a shitshow on Saturday, although somewhat better on Sunday–was panned by the masses. I stayed clear of Saturday’s madness, refusing to pay $250 for a VIP pass or succumbing to a greedy Craigslister’s generous offerings of up to $75 for a free ticket. Instead, I managed to doctor a vendor wristband that a friend had shared and gained full access to Great Googa and VIP-only Extra Mooga.

Saturday received a ton of well-deserved negative feedback, but I thought Sunday might be a chance to make things right: vendors beefed up their orders, the number of staffers on food prep, and lines were seemingly shorter. (And fights over fried chicken seemed to have abated.) All seemed to flow a bit more smoothly than I’d anticipated based on the previous day’s 1-star Yelp reviews.

Entering Extra Mooga was interesting. Here’s a shot of the actual vendor entry sandwiched between a portable ATM and trash can:

Yet there were highlights! Actual highlights. Renowned local NYC meat distributer Pat la Frieda displayed their 36-hour roasted cow which was then grilled into an even-finer tasting bacon burger. Quebecois favorite M. Wells kicked it up a notch serving horse balogna–what I’d redubbed “Pony Baloney”–and a foie gras grilled cheese. Counter Culture baristas demoed and offered hot-pour-over-ice brews.

There were adequate samples by Colicchio & Sons, Crif Dogs and Hamageddon. All fine for the palate, but vastly better sans the $250 premium. And Mile End plowed through 45 briskets–that’s about a week’s worth of smoked meat sales–in just a day.

Tony Bourdain welcomed young angry food fans, claiming his favorite place in the world was “right here in Brooklyn right here with you today.” Among some of the things he shared were his disdain for so-called chefs who think ingredients can trump technique:

“Respect the ingredient, that’s true. But you still need to transform something nasty into something amazing. Try gnawing on an undercooked lambshank…Do something with your fucking food!”

His favorite meal? “Beef bourguignon and Vicodin.” Worst food ever eaten? “Icelandic piss-filled shark covered in a vat of lactic acid.” And favorite NYC restaurant: “Russ and Daughters.”

In an unrelated rant, Bourdain shared a untempered sentiment for the President of Russia: “Vladimir Putin you midget fucking punk: I will kick your ass.”

As a Brooklyn native food snob with 34 years under my New York City belt, I commend the Googa organizers on an epic vision. Critics (like myself) no doubt see room for vast improvement, but all around, it was worth sneaking into the event. (But certainly not worth paying $250 for. Not this year.) The vision was majestic; the execution half-baked. I look forward to seeing Googa Mooga come around again with all the kinks worked out.

(Photos: Justin Durazzo/ANIMALNewYork)