Yesterday I added a recipe for a quick winter warming meal that received a comment from Nele Maene who is Belgian. At the end, she said <<< I have a beautiful cows tongue in the freezer>>> to which my reply was Yuk! She has come back and rather than add it as a comment I thought it makes interesting reading. Although only a tiny strip of water (the English Channel) separated us while we were growing up, and even though Nele and I share so many common interests, when it comes to what we eat we are very different, so is it, as she suggests really a country thing?
Maybe it’s a country habit / thing, but in the old days (when my parent’s where young – they are 92 and 91 and even when my sister was younger – she’s 67 that (the tongue) was something which was served only on very rare occasions like weddings. It takes two days to prepare. It maybe the thought of what it is, rather than how it tastes that made you react like this. Well prepared it’s so delicious (when it is sliced in thin slices you don’t see the whole thing! you would never guess what it is if you had it without knowing …. The meat is so tender, it really melts in your mouth and with the delicious sauce and with potato croquettes or pommes Duchesses. In fact is was (in the day) only rich people who served it on very special occasions. Btw, it’s not from a cow but from a calf. It’s your huge imagination of thinking about it and what it is that maybe make you feel this way !!
It’s strange how culture and habits influence how people stand against some things we eat. I know that in the UK people are horrified by the idea that we love horse meat (not the stuff they put in prepared dishes like the scandal in whole Europe for the moment) but horse steak, boiled casserole with horse meat. In fact it is the meat that is still the most pure (no antibiotics, hormones…..) because they don’t breed horses specially for the meat (it’s far to expensive for that) and we have a very strict control system in the slaughterhouses – there are always vet’s who work for the food Agency – officials – and they really take samples of every animal who comes in to see if it’s healthy, no hormones, steroids, antibiotics are used etc. A very good friend of ours (Karel is playing in the band with him, they are friends since there childhood) does this – and if they have the least doubt it isn’t allowed in the food chain and has to be destroyd. Sometimes they go unexpected to farms (pig’s, cows, chickens, fish, vegetables etc…) with a search warrant to turn the place inside out and control the animals and if they find forbidden substances (even hidden – that’s why they have a search warrant and a police escort) they shut the place down and the fines are so huge (they have to go to court and can be sent to prison) – then they are ruined for the rest of there lives.
Food is really a culturally determined thing – I can’t imagine eating what they eat in some foreign nations (worms, insects, – but I love snails bourguignonne, raw oysters) and vice versa. Phew! that’s a real essay that I wrote …
It was an essay you wrote Nele but it is also nice to hear how others from outside our own country view things too.
Update from Nele :
It’s so true what you and the people who have written a comment are saying.
The things we eat are a result of our place of birth, culture, … and of course the way we where raised. I come from a family of real gourmet’s, foodies , my parent’s took me with them to gastronomic restaurants since I could eat alone. My mum, grandmother, aunts … they are all great cooks; every Christmas, New year, etc… they where all together cooking in the big kitchen of my grandmother and me and my nieces loved helping them. All those things had a big influence on my cooking and eating habits. Karel has a totally different background – and since we’re together he’s been eating things he had never heard about.
And yes…. if we would have nothing to eat and starved I guess we would eat things we wouldn’t even consider thinking about now.
I deeply regret that I’m not able to cook (I first was a nurse…. and years later I went to cookery school to become a chef and worked for years – loved it – but a work accident ended that) because I just love it, And Karel loves it when I’m able to to it (with help) – he says he would weigh 150kg if I would cook every day – but he really hates doing it.
And now I’m going to stop writing – hun, don’t worry I wouldn’t want not screw up you’re wonderful blog !! xxx