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 …