Meesha, of Kansas City With The Russian Accent, mentioned beef tongue in an entry today, and it took me back to the 1970's, when Cliff worked in a country butcher shop and we lived hand-to-mouth. Or should I say paycheck to paycheck.
If a customer took his own animal in to be butchered, he got the whole animal: tongue, liver, heart, tail and all. However, if people went in to buy a half- or quarter-beef from them, the butcher shop kept all those things. Those parts of a cow or hog are called offal, which the butcher-shop employees pronounced "all-fall" or "aw-fall".
Anyway, there seemed to be an excess of organ meats at the shop most of the time, and we were welcome to all the liver, tongue, ox-tail, and even brains, that we wanted, at no charge. I will tell you that I only cooked brains once. I loved the taste, but somehow I couldn't get past the idea of what I was eating. Which is strange, considering it never bothered me to eat mountain oysters. (If you don't know what that is, check with mr. Google.)
Back to beef tongue: I had a big pressure canner, and the book that came with it explained how to process tongue. I'll admit it was a challenge to boil and peel the rough skin off the tongue (which you did before processing), but once you had it in the jar, that was the best sandwich meat you ever tasted!
We had ox-tail soup regularly back then, and liver-and-onions often. I rendered lard, which was actually the only shortening I kept on hand. Lard makes the best pie crust! We could have all those things at no cost. I milked cows and made all our butter at the time, too. All those foods probably contributed to Cliff having heart problems years later, but we sure thought we were eating high on the hog then.
I could eat all I wanted, and never gain weight.
Liver is on the list of things Cliff shouldn't have, especially fried; but I may have to buy a package this week. I sure would like to have some liver-and-onions.
I've just triggered another memory, a joke Cliff played on me when I was about six months pregnant with my daughter: Cliff brought home something packaged in white butcher paper, sat it on the table, and told me to check it out, that Richard (the boss) had given us a ham.
"Unwrap it and take a look," he said. "It's a nice one."
I loosened the butcher paper that encased it and found, not a ham, but a hog-head, minus the skin, staring at me. Yes, staring. Its eyes were still it its head. Cliff thought that was the funniest practical joke ever.
I told him, "It's a good thing I'm not superstitious, or I'd be worrying that you marked the baby!"
And that's today's trip down memory lane. Thanks, Meesha!