eating "disgusting" animal parts
June 21, 2006 4:51 PM   Subscribe

What are some "disgusting" animal parts (i.e animal parts that "normal" Americans don't eat for reasons of revulsion) that are good for you nutritionally speaking? Also, what are some animal parts that are unhealthy for you?

Bonus points if the animal parts are cheap and/or readily available. An example that comes to mind might be liver.
posted by mrkohrea to Food & Drink (45 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Did you know that a bull's testicles are low-fat (warning: Metric units)?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:04 PM on June 21, 2006

(Beef) tongue is one item that comes to mind.
posted by galimatias at 5:05 PM on June 21, 2006

Also, heart. I recall seeing a tv show not long ago about strange foods from around the world, and the host was served a still-beating frog's heart which he proceeded to eat. That image really creeped me out, but I think that also has to do with cultural norms here in the states as to what is "typical" food. FWIW, heart and tongue are both muscular and fairly high in protein and low in fat.
posted by galimatias at 5:09 PM on June 21, 2006

There are a lot of parts of a beef carcass that most Americans don't think of as "food": hearts, tongues, muscles that control the jaws, muscles that control ears, and so on. A lot of those come to be known as "beef byproducts" and get made into sausage or bologna or frankfurters or pepperoni or...
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:13 PM on June 21, 2006

Sweetbreads (cow pancreas and thymus) were recently banned in France, since they pose some risk of carrying BSE prions. You can still get them in the US, though (yum!). There's one for the "unhealthy" pile, I guess.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:15 PM on June 21, 2006

lamb brains mmmmm
posted by eatcake at 5:20 PM on June 21, 2006

Tripe, beef stomache lining? Mexicans make soup out of it (Menudo) that supposedly cures hang overs.
posted by snsranch at 5:38 PM on June 21, 2006

A friend of my father's claimed that haggis just wasn't the same in the US because it's illegal to sell lights (lungs) here. I think the ban is due to some sort of disease risk (tuberculosis?) from eating lungs.
posted by clarahamster at 5:42 PM on June 21, 2006

'Round these parts, the taquerias and roach coaches serve "cabeza" burritos and tacos - that's cow brain. Brian is a pretty fatty organ, and I've heard it compared favorably to scrambled eggs.
posted by lekvar at 5:42 PM on June 21, 2006

Chicken's feet are apparently very high in calcium.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 5:43 PM on June 21, 2006

Turkey tails(asses)...deep fried. Yummy!!!
posted by ramix at 5:53 PM on June 21, 2006

Cabeza refers to the cow head, what they serve is barbacoa, or barbacoa de cabeza.
posted by puke & cry at 6:11 PM on June 21, 2006

It's very good, btw.
posted by puke & cry at 6:11 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Things I have eaten, and enjoyed:

Haslet (entrail meatloaf)
Tripe in many forms
Ox tail
Blood pudding
Pulpo a la gallega (octopus-bits-in-blood-sausage - absolutely delicious)
Fermented Squid (actually I didn't really enjoy this)
Lots of weird stuff in Sushi places
posted by unSane at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2006

Oh yeah, and heart. Heart is great.
posted by unSane at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2006

I read this article the other day, and it's pretty entertaining. Warning: from Vice Magazine, so the sensibility is a little crude.

Eating an entire cow
posted by yellowbinder at 6:39 PM on June 21, 2006

My mistake, but I blame my high school Spanish teacher. And society.
posted by lekvar at 6:41 PM on June 21, 2006

lekvar, brains are sesos. One of my criteria for a good taqueria is that it must offer sesos and cabeza.
posted by padraigin at 6:46 PM on June 21, 2006

See Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. It's an entire cookbook of recipes for cooking with offal.

Fergus Henderson is the gentle madman/genius chef behind the very successful St. John Restaurant in London. GrammarMoses (aka Mrs. Enrevanche) and I were very pleased to be able to attend a dinner he cooked in the US, at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, NY, two summers ago. Really extremely tasty but gross-sounding stuff like rabbit kidneys on lettuce leaves for appetizers.
posted by enrevanche at 6:47 PM on June 21, 2006

Liver may be disgusting and/or good and/or nutritious... but don't eat polar bear liver... that'll kill you. For some reason I can't remember they contain lethal levels of Vit. D. (This may apply to all arctic mammals, but definitely for polar bears.)
posted by ruwan at 6:48 PM on June 21, 2006

In Mexico you can find not only the whole head (cabeza), but tacos of each one of the parts: eyeball, tongue, brains, snout, cheek, etc. They are considered a delicacy and not everybody eats them. I don't. Tacos de cabeza are tacos with the meat from the head. There are also tacos from most organs from the cow or pig: pancreas, liver, heart, even udder.

Menudo (stomach lining soup) cures hangovers because it's very spicy and greasy. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it really works.

Some persons add chicken organs (heart, liver, lungs) to the regular pasta soup. You can get a spoonful with a whole heart on top. Yum! (I gave it to the dog. They took away my Mexican card).
posted by clearlydemon at 6:59 PM on June 21, 2006

Vitamin A, ruwan.
posted by porpoise at 7:16 PM on June 21, 2006

A side note: the polar bear liver is toxic in vitamin A levels because of the high levels of vitamin A in the bear's diet. The diet of fish and various fish-eating predators gives the polar bear an incredible intake of vitamin A. The vitamins concentrate in high levels in the liver and are toxic to humans.
posted by galimatias at 7:36 PM on June 21, 2006

posted by galimatias at 7:36 PM on June 21, 2006

This vegetarian is reading with a combination of fascination and horror.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:43 PM on June 21, 2006

Sheep brains. Break them into smaller portions, roll them in flour, apply a nice beer batter and cook in hot oil. They're not just delicious hot, but surprisingly good cold.

Liver, sliced thinly, fried lightly then dusted with flour. Fry some bacon, fry some onions and put them all in a casserole dish. Put a little beef stock over the top to moisten, cover and bake. Even my liver hating partner enjoyed it.

Oh, and if you can get your hands on kangaroo meat, it's very good.

I believe that tripe is also very good for you, though I rarely eat it.
posted by tomble at 7:59 PM on June 21, 2006

Oh, and if you can get your hands on kangaroo meat, it's very good.

I second that! It's also the best thing to eat as far as the environment is concerned (in Australia at least). It's not an introduced species and is in no short supply.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 8:27 PM on June 21, 2006

I believe internal organs have massive amounts of cholesterol, especially brains.

According to Nutrition Data, a pound of simmered cow brains contains 12,000mg of cholesterol!

Brains'll kill ya just by thinking about eating 'em! (ha!)
posted by zerokey at 8:30 PM on June 21, 2006

Three Squeals:
It consists of live rat embryos laid out on a plate. The dish's name is said to have originated from the fact that the animal squeals once when picked up with chopsticks, a second time when dipped in the accompanying sauce and a third (and last) time when it is popped into the mouth.
posted by bunglin jones at 9:02 PM on June 21, 2006

I have heard the Duck Embryo is nutritious. Two weeks ago on his current show he was eating stir-fried "chicken ass" in Korea. I dig him but go figure.
posted by philad at 9:12 PM on June 21, 2006

I remember from school some story that eating dingo kidney's could poison a person. If I remember the detail some lame explorer dined on them despite the advice of local aboriginals?
Unfortunately, the term appears in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so is un-Googleable so I cannot cite a reference or give any more detail.
posted by bystander at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2006

Just remembered something popular in family: chicken and turkey butts (aka the touchas). Everyone in my family (but me) will fight over who gets to eat it (more like suck on it til it's gone).

And my mother sucks the eyes out of fish.
posted by zerokey at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2006

The problem with lungs isn't diseases like tuberculosis, it's parasites like lung flukes.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:10 PM on June 21, 2006

Two weeks ago on his current show he was eating stir-fried "chicken ass" in Korea.

I can verify that. It's a popular pojang-macha (mobile food cart/tent) street food. Not popular with me, personally, so much, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:22 PM on June 21, 2006

"heart and tongue are both muscular and fairly high in protein and low in fat."

Are you kidding? Beef tongue is very, very fatty - that's why it's so tender and delicious.

I suggest that brains are potentially bad for you in two ways. First, they're very high in saturated fat, and second, they may contain BSE prions if you live somewhere where infected animals are still in the herd.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:30 PM on June 21, 2006

Cow lips (very fat). Cow cheeks (delicious if you cook it at low temperature for a very long time - "joue de boeuf"). Veal brains (look for "tête de veau en tortue"). Lamb bowels and feet (look for "pieds et paquets"). Don't know if you ever had pork feet? That's very fat as well. Andouillette, which is all sorts of unmentionable stuff in a pig bowel. Cod cheeks is good, don't know how accepted that is in your part of the world. I tend to shy away from anuses, though.
posted by NekulturnY at 1:12 AM on June 22, 2006

Must’ve hit the bold button my mistake—sorry, didn’t mean to shout: I’ve not tried penis-stew myself, but was told of an occasion where it was served, when those eating it declared it tasted very good (until, at least, they were told what was in it.)
posted by misteraitch at 1:31 AM on June 22, 2006

I recently heard about neck gravy from a friends of mine in California. Gravy made from necks... presumably chicken. According to them, it's very good. I won't be trying it though.
posted by saturnine at 3:39 AM on June 22, 2006

Why not? That's what you make gravy out of — the scraps and pan drippings of the animal you cooked. For chicken, that usually means necks, wingtips, giblets and heart. You can forego the scraps and just use the drippings, but it won't be as tasty.

Chicken necks are also good for making soup stock out of. Hell, most animals' neckbones are good for soup.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:53 AM on June 22, 2006

"My Aunt Nacine, man, she could suck a neckbone... shit, like it was a work of art." - Richard Pryor
posted by enrevanche at 5:31 AM on June 22, 2006

Pizzle. Never had it, just heard about it in the context of "my country-ass uncle eats every part of the pig" type stories.
posted by electroboy at 6:58 AM on June 22, 2006

Moose nipple chips, get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely.
posted by norm at 8:53 AM on June 22, 2006

You asked about things which are not good for you. I won't eat liver, and not just because I don't like the flavor. It's because many cumulative poisons are stored in the liver. That's why they're "cumulative poisons"; they build up there because the body can't metabolize them and can't excrete them, so they're stored. When the quantity gets too great, it causes liver damage. There are all kinds of things like that but the most important are heavy metals like lead and mercury and certain hydrocarbons like benzene, as well as chloroform.

You eat another animal's liver, you get that animal's lifetime accumulation of such toxins. (Or a fraction of it as a function of how efficient your intestines are at absorbing them.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:11 AM on June 22, 2006

I eat a lot of tongue. It is cheap, easy to cook, versatile, and really, really tasty.

My local Chaldean kabab joint (the one where they answer the phone in Chaldean) has delicious heart kababs. Who could resist heart-onna-stick? I didn't much care for the brain kababs, though.

Pigs feet are tasty. Try a German restaurant for those.

I thought liver was normal, not weird. But, I like the nasty bits. They are where the flavour is.
posted by QIbHom at 1:55 PM on June 22, 2006

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