While it is true that offal is not widely consumed in the United States today, this has not always been the case, and organ meat has made a resurgence in haute cuisine. In international cuisine, certain foods that utilize offal, including foie gras, pâté, and sweetbread, have long been considered gourmet. International demand has created a thriving export market for beef by-products, which otherwise would end up as trimmings in processed food or pet food, or rendered into lard or tallow. As global food markets make ever more inroads into once isolated areas, what is eaten out of necessity and what is eaten out of pleasure each takes on an increasingly economic character. The etymology of “offal” itself reveals the dual nature of organ meat as both a food of necessity (a source of inexpensive protein) and a food of luxury (enjoyed as a delicacy). We are used to buying meat from the market in neat little packages that in no way resemble the animals they came from or the bloody process that it took to go from living being to inanimate slab of meat. Offal does not offer this distraction. I recently purchased a beef tongue from the Mizzou Meat Market for a dinner party, and there was no way to ignore that the tongue came from a cow, and the visceral nature of offal reminds us that we, too, are animals.
The Offal Truth
Jake Young received his MFA from North Carolina State University, and after a hiatus working at a winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains, currently attends the PhD program in English with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of Missouri–Columbia. He is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, and works part time as a server and bartender at The Wine Cellar and Bistro in downtown Columbia. His most recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Miramar, Askew, Cloudbank and The Hudson Review. His debut full-length collection of poetry is American Oak (2018, Main Street Rag). In 2014, Jake attended the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. He also serves as the poetry editor for the Chicago Quarterly Review.
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Jake Young; The Offal Truth. Gastronomica 1 February 2018; 18 (1): 76–82. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2018.18.1.76
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