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.