An Offensive Campaign, But Not an "Offensive" Campaign

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 20, 2007 3:00PM

2007_09_pang.jpgMention fish tacos to people and chances are that they either give you the gas face and say “Eewww!”, or repeat the term and giggle. Simply typing those words conjures in our mind innuendo-laced memories of our Uncle Stu holding his index and middle fingers to his mouth, flicking his tongue between them and talking about how he loved "eating fish on Friday at the 'Y'." Today’s Tribune, however, is all about fish tacos. Kevin Pang is launching a “fish taco offensive” to raise awareness of he calls “the perfect food.” Pang told us via e-mail yesterday, “my goal is to get people to know about it (many still think the idea of fish and tacos are disgusting), get people to appreciate it, and get restaurateurs to start adding it to menus.”

Specifically, Pang is trying to raise awareness of Baja-style fish tacos: those lightly battered, deep-fried pieces of whitefish, cod, or tilapia served on a corn tortilla with cabbage, lime and salsa. To do so, the Tribune has launched a multimedia campaign that tip-toes the fine line between awareness and publicity stunt. Pang solidly details the history of the snapper pouch, while radio legend Steve Dahl weighs in with an account of the first time he went down on a fish taco. We haven’t even had our morning coffee yet, and already we're mining gold.

Pang makes an appearance on Dahl’s WCKG (105.9 FM) radio show this afternoon to talk about his campaign. He also sat down for an interview with the folks at the Maniacal Rage Podcast. If that wasn’t enough, Tribune readers who make a “pledge” to hold their noses and try a fish taco can receive their own teal-colored “fish taco” rubber bracelet by visiting the Tribune’s “Stew” food blog. Expect to see Pang around town with a camera crew in tow today passing out those bracelets and ambushing chefs in an effort to get them to add fish tacos to their menus.

We expressed our skepticism of this campaign to Pang; with a little bit of hoofing and research, it isn’t hard to find a good Baja-style fish taco in the city. He replied that the whole campaign is more about raising awareness of the dish. “I went to school at USC and would drive down to San Diego often to eat fish and lobster tacos. Here in town, we tried fish tacos at around 15 places. I can't say any of them wowed me, but a few came close.” Those places include Chicagoist favorites Adobo Grill, Fonda del Mar, and Carbón. Pang is right; made well, a fish taco is a great thing to munch on (sorry, we can’t help ourselves).