We’ve really stepped up buying local/sustainable this year. Part of this has entailed going to Bob’s Quality Meats, a local butcher in Columbia City that features all local, pastured meats. I swear, their whole chickens are the most delicious things ever. A few weeks ago, I was perusing the freezer and came across a beef tongue. I was feeling daring that day–and thinking about eating “nose to tail”–and thus the tongue found its way into my basket and into our freezer at home.
Now my grandmother used to cook tongue all the time. I remember it as being very tender and tasty. I never really thought about it that much, probably because it generally appeared on my plate already sliced and smeared with horseradish. But this … this hunk of tongue. Any recipe entails boiling it and then peeling the skin off it. It’s been taunting me from the freezer.
Last night, I pulled it out out the freezer and stuck it in the fridge This morning, Steve took the Pyrex dish out of the fridge and onto the counter because it wasn’t thawed. We stared at it wordlessly. Finally, he broke the silence. “I’ll eat anything,” he said. “But I have to tell you. I’m not really looking forward to dinner tonight.”
The thing is, a tongue is a tongue is a tongue. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from a pig, a cow, or a human. They all look the same. (Except of course for size, which led to some fairly ribald comments as we were contemplating it.) But I tell myself: How is it any worse to eat tongue when we eat other meat? The only difference is that it’s more easily recognizable for what it is. When I was 10 or 11, I went out to a fancy dinner with some relatives and ordered sweetbreads off the menu. To be totally honest, all that was going through my head was, “WOW! I like this place–you can have COFFEE CAKE or DONUTS as DINNER!” So yeah, I pretty disappointed when I got some meat in a buttery sauce. It was pretty good. But it wasn’t CAKE. Later on, my great aunt told me what sweetbreads really were. I just shrugged. It was okay.
I’m hoping the tongue is like that.
So here I go ….