Offal Meats


Yes I know that I have strange eating habits, well some people consider the food that I eat is strange. I’m really fond of all offal which some years ago would have been considered normal. If you don’t know what it is, it’s the odd bits of animals, that most other people won’t or don’t eat. I really like Tripe, Sweetbreads, Ox Tails, Liver, Kidneys. Goodness, we even had Tripe Clubs in several of the Towns where we lived. Not only that, they were very popular with a large following. So it’s not just me that has a taste for offal. Offal properly prepared, is one of the gastronomic treats for the table. But today sadly in this country, it’s getting really difficult to even source offal, particularly Tripe. For most Supermarkets it’s just a No, No. As an aside, I have no idea what’s happened to another delicious item, Lamb Tongues. They have just completely disappeared from the food scene. They were mostly supplied processed in cans with a jelly meat. Simply delicious when served up with a salad. Slowly over time they changed in their presentation. Once they were skinned, then they came with the skin on, then in a very small can at an exorbitant price. Then no more, gone, maybe they were just too expensive to process? A marvellous tasty food that is no more. Something we have enjoyed for over 150 years.


Once the Bourgeoisie, and the Lord of the manner, ate the meat roasts and steaks, in fact all the prime cuts. The serfs, and other disadvantaged, had to make out with what was left. People then were so hungry, they didn’t look too hard at what was being dolled out. Thank goodness for Alison Holst, her cook books are full of old traditional recipes for such dishes as Brawn, Liver and Bacon, and various Pates. With her help I know that I’m not barmy after all. Today if you purchased a few attractive slices of Brawn for a salad from the local Delicatessen, and were unaware where it comes from, you would never guess it was made entirely from a pig’s head. If many knew this today they would refuse even to taste it, let alone eat it.


Many people I know don’t like certain offal. These folk know this instinctively, never having tasted any of these foods. I have arrived at the ‘check out’ when shopping and I have been lucky enough to find some offal such as tripe from the meat section of a Supermarket. I have without fail heard the operator say, ‘What’s that’? And on being told, ‘Oh Yuck’! I ask, ‘Have you ever tried it’? No. Many today know instinctively they are not going to like something without even trying it. Yes I also know with tripe while cooking it smells a little, but three or four changes of water soon fixes that. I observed while staying at a farm in my youth another young guest from the City wouldn’t eat the farm butter. However he was quite happy with when it was served up to him wrapped in a commercial label. A neighbour too, wouldn’t eat ‘store bought’ Fruit Cake. He demanded his wife bake cakes especially for him. His wife dutifully went through the charade of taking it out of the oven under his nose making him very happy. (once of course that she had removed the commercial baker’s wrapping). So a lot of perceptions and taste are all in the mind.


My son has a small farm and on occasions uses the ‘Farm Kill System’, this is where a Mobile Butcher calls and quickly turns a cattle beast into meat packets ready for the freezer. I’m alway on hand to gather up Ox Tails, Tongues, Kidneys, livers. The butcher said, only one in twenty of his clients bother at all with the offal. These valuable bits are always thrown out, or given to the dogs.


I have had a lot to do with the French, Japanese, and Chinese communities over my lifetime. I find with food I’m completely in step with all of them. They are all very down to earth when it comes to harvesting meat from any animal. But these cultures continually surprise me. They also throw very little away when it comes to food. Sometimes if you didn’t ask, you would never guess exactly what you are eating. However things can change. Surprisingly now. it’s not unusual to see items such as chickens feet being packed for sale in the Supermarket. Maybe we have turned the corner with this acceptance. I have eaten this food in a restaurant, but I’m convinced that it’s more their batter that’s the tasty part, not the feet.


Some today are vegetarians, they are lucky with many foods being sourced from all parts of the world so it’s easy now to get many of the protein your body requires. But I’m puzzled when I see today’s ‘Models’ strutting down the ‘Cat Walk’. How skinny they are. Is this a result of being starved of protein? Or is it how we want our girls of today to look?






Comments are closed.