When you sit down to a meal, you might have an expectation of what type of meat you will be consuming.
However, travel to a different country and your normal expectation will be quickly, and pleasantly surprised. Meat comes from any and all parts of a given animal. And the way it is prepared can vary as much as the type of meat.
Letting go of any reservations over the initial thought or even appearance of a dish, and your taste buds will explode with appreciation for the opportunity to experience delicious food such as pig’s head and cow tongue.
Sissig or Pig’s Head
Pork is an essential part of all Filipino cuisines. In fact, pork makes up 60% of all meat consumption in the Philippines.
Pig meat is so revered that no part is left out. Especially not the head. In this Southeast Asian nation, pig’s head is one of the most sought after dishes.
It is popular for its tender, delightful flavor. But much more than that, it is a nod to tradition and the rich heritage of the Philippines. Pork has been the staple meat for longer than history can trace.
Sissig is the most popular way it is eaten throughout the Phillipines, often with a large, cold beer. However, pig’s head can be included in multiple dishes. Cheek and tongue meat are well known for their tendy, juicy, delicious flavor.
Sissig will not make the top of a healthy recipe list, though. It is extremely fatty, and, therefore, is often eaten as a snack.
A visit to arctic regions 100 years ago would surely have served you a hearty platter of blubber or whale fat, probably raw. Inuit people in the far northern regions of the world such as Alaska, Canada, and Norway consumed raw whale fat as part of their regular diet.
However, whale fat is becoming more taboo for several reasons.
Science has shown that whale fat is actually highly toxic and can lead to cancer. Also, whales are so massive that killing one removes an essential mammal from our ecosystem. Finally, remote locations that used to rely on arctic sea animals for food now have more access to different, healthier food.
Tail might be the last thing you think of when contemplating meat choices. At first sight, it seems like little more than hair and bones used to swish away the flies.
And you would be right.
Animal tails are bountiful in bone and muscle, but not so much the meat department. However, it is hard to come by a more juicy, flavorful meat that is found inside an ox tail or cow tail.
Should you brave the effort to deconstruct a tail, the end result will be well worth your while. For optimum taste and a fail-proof recipe, try this delectable oxtail stew.
Heard of rocky mountain oysters? Yeah, they’re not oysters.
This one comes to you courtesy of the USA. Testicles are not even technically meat, but rather an organ that came to be a delicacy out of practical purposes.
Bull testicles have been removed from cattle for years to control breeding, temperament, and muscular development in the cattle. And for ranchers with limited food at their disposal, they turned to what they had available.
But why the deceiving name?
The name “bull testicles” wasn’t exactly appealing to diners in restaurants. So, they took to where the food originated. Ranching is a common practice in the Rockies. And has been since the 19th century.
Also, the slimy texture of uncooked testicles is similar to that of oysters. With the birth of a new name, the food quickly became more appetizing on menus and people found they were quite delicious.
Stomach falls into a category called offal or variety meat. These types of meat are basically organs or any non-muscular part of the animal that is consumed. Stomach is an extremely common variety meat eaten around the world and is often referred to as tripe.
You can find stomach eaten in various forms from Mexico to France to India and the Philippines.
Tripe is actually the lining of the stomach. There are multiple forms of tripe depending on where it is taken from. The most popular types are honeycomb and scalded. With this tripas tacos recipe, you’ll get the full experience of a delicious, traditional tripe meal.
The incredible, edible heart.
An extremely tough and muscular piece of meat, heart breaks down to a tender, juicy meat when cooked properly. It is also very healthy.
Ironically, eating heart has been known to fight heart disease. It is rich in many essential minerals like iron and B-complex vitamins.
Many offal meats, like heart, are actually more nutritious and lower in calories than typical cuts of meat.
With this information, offal meats like tripe, stomach, and heart are making quite a comeback in modern cuisine.
Everywhere you go, you find traditional foods unique to that region. As we learn more about food and their nutritional contents, some of these seemingly “odd” foods are expanding to become mainstains around the globe for their highly nutritious contents.
Others meats that have long standing traditions in social spheres are becoming nullified as we learn of their detrimental impacts, like blubber or whale fat.