Offal Nice

Today there were numerous news stories about a “new organ” being discovered in the human body. It’s actually the re-classification of the mesentery as an organ, whereas it used to be seen as just a membrane holding the small intestine in place.

You don’t hear a lot about the mesentery, but French chefs like to cook it. They like to cook a lot of things that come out of the guts of animals. So let’s discuss what the cooking terms translate into!

Tripe = stomach or stomach lining. French andouillette sausage is stuffed with tripe and mesentery meat. Some kinds of menudo are all about tripe, although usually it’s just leftovers of whatever the household has been eating. But a lot of taquerias will do you tripe tacos or tripe soup, just like they’ll do beef tongue and the like. There are different kinds of cow tripe that each get cooked differently; Wikipedia will fill you in.

Friaise/fraise = mesentery. “Fraise” means “ruff” as well as “strawberry,” so the French make this word do a lot of duty.

Pluck = originally “mesentery.” It grew to include the heart, liver and lungs of an animal, eventually including the guts (braided for cooking convenience) and other offal. Sometimes used as a synonym for offal and other “variety meats.”

Chitterlings aka Chitlins = dish made from pig intestines.

Liver and lights = liver and lungs. A common food for dogs, in the old days.

Melt = spleen.

Kidneys = kidneys. Also “reins” and “rognons.”

Sweetbreads consist of three different things:

  • Belly sweetbread = pancreas
  • Breast sweetbread = the thymus glands
  • Throat sweetbread = the thyroid gland

(So kids, all of you with thyroid problems or diabetes are basically having sweetbread troubles.)

Elder = cow udder. Sometimes sold as part of “tripe.”

Animelles = French term for animal testicles. (There are ruder terms for human ones.) Also called “rognons blancs” and “rognons externelles.”

Lamb’s fry = lamb testicles.

There are a lot of other animal parts that are used in the traditional cuisine of many countries, but this gives you a good start.


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4 responses to “Offal Nice

  1. Carl H

    Let me recommend beef tongue. Boiled, pressed, skinned and sliced into ‘cold roast beef’ sandwiches. To press them, my grandmother always put the cooked tongues into a large pot and put a plate on top, then sat one or two of her ‘clean rocks’ on top of that. Cans of beans work just as well for those of you who don’t have interesting clean rocks handy. This pressing ‘closes the pores’ of the beef she said – I helped do it because she said so. Like me, you’ll have to take her word for it.

  2. GWB

    People get so whiny about haggis. The USDA has even made it illegal (when prepared properly – with lung). But, it’s good stuff.

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds

    Tongue is lovely – but a whole beef tongue goes a long way. And haggis is good stuff indeed – though when I used to make ‘pan’ haggis, in a pressure cooker, I only used liver (I don’t know where or how you’d get ‘lights’ (= lungs), and didn’t try to find out: but maybe this is the answer – ordinary mortals simply couldn’t, in the U.S.). Not bad, but not up to the real thing.

    When I was in grad school, I economized on my steak and kidney pie by only using a beef kidney – an amazingly good buy, but always lingeringly… uric.

    But I’ll never forget how superb the rognons at Brown’s were (lambs), when we took Elizabeth Anscombe out to dinner before she spoke at the Lewis Society.

    Just what offal the faggots I always enjoyed from one of the butchers in the market were made of, though, I don’t know.

  4. wodun

    Some people find that those who eat foods like this endearing and view some cultures historic use for all parts of an animal a virtue but they also think hot dogs are an abomination.

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