Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ox tongue salad

If you're not used to eating tongue, you don't taste the first couple of bites for all the jokes cluttering the air.

"Hey, look …"
"I'm tongue-tied!"

"What …"
"I bit my tongue."

"Man …"
"What's the matter?"
"The cat got my tongue."

But pretty soon that gets old and you eat. Tongue's weird. It's like meat loaf without the ketchup. You want it to be better but it just isn't. Ultimately, you have to live with the idea that you're eating it versus throwing it out, which would be not good. A not-good worse than the taste of tongue, but barely.

I slightly exaggerate. Tongue's not horrible, it's just not very delicious, and you sort of expect it to be given the effort you're making to consume it. Not that effort ever justified success. Nobody promised that tongue was the cat's meow. Somebody just decided not to toss it.

The meat is leanish at the tip and gradually grows fattier the further into the mouth you go. By the time you've arrived at the back of the tongue, it's about half-fat, half-muscle. These slices are a bit tastier, which might have helped inspire St. John's Fergus Henderson to speak of them as "little angels wings," for, anatomically, they look only vaguely angelic or winged. At least on my cow. But, toward the back, they are more tantalizing. I suspect these are the ends that make the best sandwich slices. That's the bell they rung for me, anyway.

It's odd tasting a thing designed to taste. I guess cows taste. I know they like to lick salt because I remember the yellow cubes my uncle used to stick at the end of the hay trough for all the cows to lick whenever they felt compelled enought come up from the pasture.


  1. Reading this actually turned my stomach. But very well written.

  2. I think I could hear it from here ... that turning sound. Sorry.