Gourmet or Garbage?

Food is very much a part of our culture and the beliefs, practices, and trends in a culture affect our eating practices. What is considered a delicacy in one area and by one group may be considered an abomination by others.

Further, eating foods with one’s fingers may be considered ill mannered by some, while others may consider eating with a knife and fork barbaric.

Increasingly, awareness of the food traditions, and indeed the incredible variety of herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables, different parts of animals and the countless enticing ways of food preparation  have enriched our individual food horizons and expanded our views of different cultures…

Therefore, for today’s post I would like to share with you about a very interesting culinary item called ……OFFAL or in my country we call it ‘JEROAN’.

Offal or variety meats are culinary terms used to refer to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. They are those parts of an animal which are used for food but which are not muscle meat.

Why offal?

Offal is such an interesting and polarizing culinary item……..

People in some cultures shy away offal and considered it as bizarre food or even garbage while others use it as everyday food or even gourmet food that command a high price…..

The name offal means “off fall”, in other words, the bits which fall from an animal when it is butchered. The term covers items such as the heart, liver and lungs (collectively known as the pluck) plus kidneys, brains, head, feet, tongue, intestines and tails.  Offal from birds is generally referred to as giblets.

In my country almost all of the parts of the animal are eaten. Offal can be fried, made into ‘soto’ (soups) or grilled as satay and almost all of the parts of the animal are eaten.

Cow’s stomach (babat) and intestine (iso) are fried or cooked in ‘soto’ or soup. There’s a ‘soto’ called ‘soto babat’ which only uses tripes.

‘Soto Betawi’ (please see my last week post ‘Soup in the City’) is known as the type of ‘soto’ that uses various kinds of offal.

Within Indonesia cuisine tradition, the ‘Minangkabau’ cuisine (popularly known as “Padang food”) are known for their fond of offal, mostly are made into ‘gulai’ (a type of curry) such as  ‘gulai otak’ (brain curry),  ‘gulai babat’ (tripes curry), ‘gulai usus’ (intestine curry), ‘gulai sumsum’ (bone marrow curry) and ‘gulai tunjang’ (cow’s feet curry).

Cow’s tongue or ‘lidah sapi’ is sliced and fried, sometimes in a spicy sauce, or more often is cooked as ‘semur’ or stew.

In my country, even the goat’s testicles popularly called ‘torpedo’ are consumed too as satay or ‘soto’. Due to its rarity the testicles are among the most expensive offal in Indonesia.

Giblets of chicken are commonly consumed too.

Sometimes the way they cook the offal can be such a way that you don’t even know that it is offal dish like the following ‘Cow’s nose Salad’ or ‘Rujak Cingur’ from East Java:

Being an Indonesian, I don’t shy away from offal. But I have my likes and dislikes.

I’ve tasted many different offal dishes such as lungs, heart, tongue  spleen, chicken giblets … that I’ve enjoyed.

But I dislike brain, cow’s feet, nose and testicles. The reason I don’t like those parts of animals is textural. I simply can’t stand the slimy- jelly-like texture.

However if there’s offal dish on a restaurant menu, honestly I’ll choose a non-offal dish.  Again it is textural related but also there’s also the health issue. Some offal contain high purine which can trigger high uric acid in the blood and cause ‘gout’ disease.

So far, I have eaten chicken giblets and  a few other offal dishes, they were good and I enjoyed them. And I will continue eating them as well as other offal since my culture uses ‘nose-to-tail’ ingredients in our cuisines.

But I have to admit  that I am not the type of ‘I’ll-eat-anything-put-before-me’ eater like Anthony Bourdain is. I admire heartily his bravery and enthusiasm.

Anthony Bourdain has inspired me to keep trying new things, new dishes, domestic and foreign and I wish I could be more adventurous like him………………but unfortunately by nature I am more of a picky-less-adventurous-eater


One response to “Gourmet or Garbage?

  1. Off Fall…. Now there is something I did not know. I have tried most types an I agree for me the most off putting thing is quite often texture

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