Only one food offering at the Taste has a sublime transformative power, reducing tasters to their gnashing, grunting, pre-technological, cave-dwelling Pleistocene inner-selves. Helen’s barbecued turkey leg is a tender piece of bird the size of a toaster slathered in tangy, delectable sauce, and it’s beyond finger food. This is drag it to a corner, beat away rivals, press it to your face food. Get it in your eyes, let turkey-spray congeal in your hair. Collect drippings in your clothes and smell caveman-sexy on the El. When you’re finished you feel like hunting, and not in some Nancy-boy Ted Nugent way, either, but with your hairy caveman-hands and a big club. A few Taste patrons (mostly Gold Coast gentry and suburban mall bunnies) will order the leg but attempt to preserve their appearance. This ends badly. You won’t conquer the leg with traditional utensils or a delicate grip. If your look is so tight, so meticulously cultivated that you can’t handle being covered in a fine layer of barbecue sauce and animal fat, you’re doomed. Napkins alone won’t protect you —a HAZMAT suit and lead gloves are recommended, wuss.
1732 East 79th
Helen’s restaurant is closed. Since Helen’s closing, Manny’s Deli has provided turkey legs for the Taste of Chicago.
Audience choice: None
Who eats at Taste of Chicago? Go for the music.
Best of Chicago 2002