Confession: I'm an offal lover. Are you?
I have a confession to make: I am an offal lover. I know, it sounds disappointing; but alas, I am what I am. Offal is the noun associated with the internal (and some external) organs of various mammals and sea dwellers. These include brains, ears, eyes, snouts (noses), thymus glands (sweetbreads), heart, kidneys, liver, intestines (chitterlings, tripas de leche), stomach (tripe, maws, buches), testicles and feet (trotters) among others.
I know that the above may gross some of you out. But, when I see any of the above on a menu, I have a hard time passing them up, even when fine dining. If sweetbreads are on the menu at Marche Moderne or Pascal, they usually will end up at my table. If there are multiple items, I may request a chef’s tasting menu to include some or all. Likewise, some good tacos de tripas or a burrito de cabeza will virtually always quench my penchant. Please do not misunderstand; my food palate is highly eclectic. I enjoy an extraordinarily wide variety of foodstuffs from land, sea, sky and anywhere in between.
A short list of the world’s regional offal compilations that I truly savor include: boudin (white, red) and hog’s head cheese from Louisiana; blood sausage (soon dae from Korea, morcilla from Mexico and Spain); menudo; feijoada; chorizo; ponce and chaudin from Louisiana (haggis from Scotland); pate and foie gras and many many more.
I’m interested in how many other ‘hounds share this particular, if not peculiar, offal affliction.
I’d also like to hear of your favorite venues serving up something wonderfully offal.
You and me and Leopold Bloom, dude. Let's form a support group, the purpose of which (in contrast to the purpose of support groups for people suffering life-threatening or at least inconvenient addictions and desires) will be to satisfy our healthy craving, which has the additional benefit, to nature and society and my conscience, of assuring that no edible part of a slaughtered beast goes to waste.
Our first task will be to contact Fergus Henderson and urge him to open a restaurant in Los Angeles. If that thug Gordon Ramsay can open a local joint, the sole purpose of which, I suppose, is to give him an echo chamber in which he can tell his employees to fuck off (when he happens to jet into town), then surely the UK has a duty to restore balance by sending us Henderson, who only eviscerates animals, presumably with knives instead of f-words. Although it may be cheaper to fly to London for dinner at St. John by the time the British economy finishes collapsing.
You started this, degustateur, so you call Fergus.
P.S. I've had good sweetbreads at 2117 and Fraiche. And while this is way outside the realm of my knowledge, Hakka cuisine of China is renowned for its resourceful use of offal. You might consult someone on this board who knows his way around the San Gabriel valley.
I have gone on record as being addicted to the stewed tripe at 888 in the SGV. Rich and gooey, with a big dollop of hot chile oil ladeled on. Oh my oh my... sweetbreads (I've actually cooked these! And they're fantastic!), chit'lins, pig's feet head cheese, boudin noir, yum yum yum. It's not just me, either: Mrs. O is passionate about lengua, tripas, and buche tacos, and has made many a happy Sunday breakfast out of a big bowl of menudo.
I've long maintained here that I'm an Offal Oaf. Mondongo is my favorite lunch in Mexico, smoked lung lentils on the stove tomorrow; my daughter just had her French carrot soup with pasta and gizzards. Fried chicken intestine was my fave while walking around to see the Christmas lights along the Rio Cali. I put tripe/callo in my laap (as do all good Lao and NE Thai); and people who say that they don't like tripe love it. Along with the gizzards, I have cooked chicken livers stocked in the ref for consumption over the next few days. I made stock with the feet and necks - and then ate the same feet and necks with home made chile sauce. One of my best meals was the whole head of a cow (not a steer) in Chiapas awhile back. I not only make and eat anticuchos, I make ceviche anticuchos! Dinuguan is one of my favorite dishes in the Philippines. And who can resist blutwurst? My beef stroganoff is made with chicken hearts and people ask for the recipe. And no need to be rad: steak and kidney pie, liver and onions, pate, ...
Oh, I'm an offal oaf, an offal oaf am I
Happy to be an offal oaf
Eating all that is often put aside
Speaking as an ordinary Asian, I don't know how necessary it is for me to eat tripe and trotters and tongues (oh my!) especially considering that the price of chicken breast has fallen to $1.99/lb lately (compared to $2.39/lb for tripe), but when I'm blue or homesick, nothing makes me happier than a bowl of blood stew and crispy fried intestines with a stopover in Flushing to pick up a container of shredded tripe and tendon in chili oil for a snack later.
If I was to be seated at a table and given the choice of the best prepared rib eye steak cooked to perfection and an ordinary restaurant quality liver and onions...I would grab the liver every time.
The best meal I ever had was listed on the menu as Spaghetti ala Caruso...It was made with a sauce of chicken livers. Many years ago and I have never forgotten it.