The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2010

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FROM THE EDITOR Ain’t It Offal? M ost Americans are wimps—when it comes to food. This fact was brought home to me during a recent visit to our shores by famed British chef Fergus Henderson, whose mantra is “nose-to-tail eating.” “It’s foolish and wasteful to eat just the fillet,” he said, “When virtually the whole rest of the animal is supremely edible.” I heartily agree. Americans have come a long way from the bor- ing meat and potatoes diet of the 1950s, but they still are spooked by innards such as sweatbreads, liver, tripe, heart, kidneys, brains or tongue. I would guess that not one restaurant in ten in this country has even one of these items on its menu. The decision, on the part of restaurateurs, to avoid these organ meats is counterintuitive, considering that these cuts are the least expensive available. Unlike some unconventional foods that are very expensive because of their rarity—caviar, truffles, Iberico ham—there’s nothing snobby or elitist about innards. Actually, they are often discarded for lack of interest on the part of cooks and chefs. Rather than bearing the fancy-pants stigma of rarefied baronial dining halls, these bargain meats are much more likely to show up in a peasant stew than a snooty gourmet dish. Maybe the problem is that innards are known collectively as “offal,” a word that doesn’t exactly dance off the tongue. Chef Henderson is quick to point out that there are other non-offal parts that usually get short shrift as well: heads, snouts, ears, tails and trotters. At a cooking demonstration at Ciudad restaurant in Los Angeles, he prepared pigs’ trotters salad, crisp breaded pigs’ tails and ox hearts. Now we’re talking. So, restaurateurs, it is up to you to lead the benighted American diner out of the wilderness. Let’s make July 2010 the National Take an Offal to Dinner month or, better yet, let’s dub the next three months The Summer of Offal Love. Put some brains—or maybe tripe—into your menu. You’ll be hailed as a pioneer (at least by me) and you’ll save money too. / the tasting panel / july 2010 PHOTO: CATHY TWIGG-BLUMEL

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