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Eat Your Brain, Dear! or Meat, Your Friend

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Today we’re throwing a bone to the past with a 1942 publication of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture meat manual.  At that time the American people were trying to live frugally after the Depression. The threat of war made it necessary to watch food consumption too. And most importantly, Americans needed sustainable nutrition. But the cost of meat meant it needed to be used thoroughly. So this pamphlet shows how to use each part of a cow.

Cooks then had the same concerns we do today: frugality. Meat doesn’t need to be expensive. It’s all in how you use it. Basically, meat cooked slowly in water or marinade produces tender savory results. Many slow cooker cookbooks attest to this. Bones can be used for stocks and soups. Leftovers can be made into a myriad of dishes. And even the hidden parts of a cow can be consumed. Well, supposedly.

Bu sometimes frugality extends a little too far. Thus, we end up with several, um, interesting recipes you won’t find at Applebee’s.

Spleen Stew                                                       Jellied Veal Salad
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Plus, there’s recipes for braised heart and stuffed liver. And in case you want a new twist on scrambled eggs, just try adding some  brains. “Come on kids, I have an extra special breakfast today!” ;-D  Talk about having your mind on food …

                                                               Scrambled Brains
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Image (59)Now for a special treat, try to hold your tongue—with a fork. Cold sliced tongue…Mmmmm. I admit tongue is not my favorite. The rough texture makes it rather hard to chew. However, if it is sliced thin and fried with peppers and onions in a tortilla, it is tolerable in Mexican meals.

I experienced a close encounter of the other kind of meat once at a Vietnamese restaurant. I thought beef pho soup contained just broth with beef and noodles. But when it came I saw some floating spongy brown blocks. They tasted rubbery and strange. So dumb me asked what it was. The waitress paused a moments before saying, “I no know word. It in here,” at which point she pointed to her stomach. Apparently, only the Vietnamese characters explained the inclusion of tripe, beef intestines from the first two stomachs of a cow. After I heard where it came from I wasn’t too keen on finishing the dish. Now there was yet another unsettled stomach at the table.

However, these beefy insides won’t be appearing on my table anytime soon. To be fair, part of the reason is modern American taste prejudices. The national palette has been dumbed down to a bland blend of protein. Americans want simple meat: “white meat” chicken nuggets, 100% pure beef burgers, and taco meat. However, if you ever read the full packaging info on these items, you’ll realize we’ve been eating a lot more parts than we think! I remember being frozen in fear in the McDonald’s storage locker when I read the three inches of text for the the ingredients in chicken nuggets. I haven’t eaten them since. Granted, they claim to have changed their recipe, but still, I don’t trust them. (Watch chef Jamie Oliver show how chicken nuggets are made here.)

While these beef dishes don’t seem too delicious, they are likely nutritious. Still, I think I’ll stick to regular eggs and bacon for breakfast.


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About Adam

I'm a wannabe chef, house spouse and recovering English major. Food has always been my source of metaphors. But art and language insert their similes and lend flavor to my creativity too. I see the little odd details of life that make the ordinary full of humor. I enjoy creating old and new foods, watching cartoons, reading literature, learning language, and sharing ideas with others. Feel free to contact me with ideas for future posts.

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