Offally Odd

Me and Mr Shoestring watched The Taste on Channel 4 last night, mainly because Mr S quite likes the beautiful Nigella. We were both fascinated and appalled because the theme of this week’s competition was offal. The chefs could choose tripe, brains, pig’s heads, blood – every part of an animal you could think of. When they showed a pot of lamb testicles, even I winced and crossed my legs!

The chefs made some really tasty looking dishes, I would have tried any of them perfectly happily. It did make me consider my own attitude – and British attitude’s generally – about eating animals. Why is it ok for most people to eat the meat/muscle but not the offal? Why is a deep fried pig’s ear a delicacy in some cultures and only fit as a treat for the dog here?

I recently cooked liver and bacon and it was lovely. But, as offal is cheap, maybe it is the time to take a good look in the butcher’s and try something else. After all, if we are going to kill an animal for food, shouldn’t we eat it all?

There is a related story in the news today about a butcher’s shop in Sudbury, not far from me, who has had to remove its display of dead animals, including pigs heads and fully feathered geese and ducks – because they had so many complaints from the public. Unless they are vegetarian, does it make sense to be offended by the sight of a dead animal that they would probably be happy to eat on a plate smothered in gravy?

I think we have a strange ability to disassociate the meat we are eating with the reality of what it actually is. I include myself in this! Off to find some recipes for brain and testicle stew …


0 thoughts on “Offally Odd

  1. Sophie Cussen

    I’m one of folks that was brought up on brawn and irish stew. I’ll quite happily eat most offal (apart from maybe testicles and brains) and it is extremely cheap. Various chefs have tried to make offal more appealing but I think we’re all just so used to eating cuts and joins we’re familiar with it takes a while to change people perceptions. Getting people to eat it young (the same goes for veggies) is often the only way I’m afraid.
    I personally feel that if you’re going to eat a chicken you might as well eat all you can of the poor creature considering it died for our table.
    That recent news article really got my goat. Why would anyone make complaints? The guy is doing his job. People will quite happily buy packaged and wrapped meat but they don’t want to see the carcass it has come from? Madness! Either hate the carcass and go veggie or accept that meat comes from an actual dead, killed animal and appreciate the work of the butcher.

    1. ChickenladyJane Post author

      I quite agree : it’s just familiarity. I am definitely going to explore further. Maybe chicken livers and kidneys next. Slow but sure or my daughters will be begging for lentils!



    When I heard this local story had gone National, I thought I bet it’s the second home owners complaining not the locals!
    Love Brawn or pork cheese at it once was but even a pigs head is expensive now. Also like liver but am allergic, and used to like kidneys until I had one of my own removed and learned more about them which rather put me off. Trotters are used in brawn for the jelly but I’ve never tried any other bits!

    1. ChickenladyJane Post author

      As Sudbury is a market town in a rural area you might be right about the second homers, or it might be a sign of the times. We like our meat vacuum packed in little packages!

  3. Julia

    My mum kept a baby book of “Firsts” for me, and among my first likes and dislikes was Likes: chips, Dislikes: liver!
    Not much has changed over the years and I’ve been 99% vegetarian since the age of 9 or 10. While I would never choose to eat meat, I wouldn’t get squeamish about seeing carcasses hanging up in a butchers either, despite being a sanitised city-dweller! I think it does us good to remember where our food comes from.

  4. AuntLeesie

    Grocery stores in California don’t sell much beyond basic, familiar cuts of meats. I’ve seen beef tongue and tripe at times (popular in Mexican cooking). I don’t think I’ve seen liver in years. My husband is grateful. Growing up, our moms cooked liver and onions regularly for dinners, and neither of us can bear it. Because my grandfather hunted, I’ve fond memories of venison, rabbit, pheasant, etc.