Kid just loves him some cows (komos) wrote,
Kid just loves him some cows

Nose to Tail: Not for the Faint at Heart

Earlier this week, I braised a lamb's head. It was skinned and short of its ears, but it was unmistakably the head of an animal. That I cooked. To eat. To add to any lingering weirdness, I'm pretty sure that the bag came with his name written on it. The resulting soup was delicious, but it was perhaps one of the most personal meal I've ever prepared.

Robert, formerly of Formaggio Kitchen, tells a story about the pig that the staff had raised with every intention of turning into delicious meat products once it had grown. They named it, and there were some misgivings when it came to slaughtering time. They all grieved by having an enormous barbecue, and according to the story, the pork was delicious.

Of course, this was different. I arrived at the end of the process rather than seeing the rearing of the animal from it's birth. In fact, I had no relationship with the animal apart from being a potential consumer. Still, the pangs of regret were there, and even a touch of shame. It was nothing unmanageable, but I did have a very distinct "Oh.My.God." moment. The food I was preparing had a face, and that's something that I do not often have to cope with.

What's weird is that I'm really not at all squeamish about parts. Offal of various sorts has been the basis of some of the most imaginative and delicious dishes I've had. Heck, I was raised spreading headcheese on toast with a touch of French's Genuine Blue-Collar Mustard before I realized what it was, and hardly blinked an eye when my grandfather finally explained it to me. It was tasty, and it seemed like using still more of the animal was a good idea. I never got around to actually learning how to make it, though.

When all is said and done, I think this was an important experience for me. I'm pretty committed to the concepts around responsible use, and in spite of any misgivings I may have had, I really enjoyed working with the head as an ingredient. I fretted a little overmuch for fear that V wouldn't be able to follow me down this path, but in spite of her request that she not have to see the head, she seemed to enjoy the results in the end. I doubt I will ever become entirely inured to the regret, but I'm guessing it'll be much easier next go. Milestone managed.

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