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Posted: 03 September 2014 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve heard this phrase on US TV shows and so forth. Thanks to xkcd, I now know that the phrase is a eupehmism that means organs. Randall says that the phrase was popularised by officials wanting to encourage Americans to eat more organs, because meat was scarce during the war.

https://what-if.xkcd.com/105/

Is the term still in use? Is Randall right to suggest that the term was coined as part of a government drive?

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Posted: 03 September 2014 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The phrase was discussed in this old thread.

None of the Americans on that thread seem to use the phrase as a normal part of their vocabulary (though I don’t think we had any butchers commenting).  I was only familiar with it from the David Letterman sketches Dave mentioned, and it’s possible that it was used there for comic effect due to its being a formal, marketing term that most people don’t use in ordinary conversation (like “bathroom tissue” for “toilet paper").

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Posted: 03 September 2014 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve seen US cookery sites that use the term organ meats, which to a Rightpondian ear sounds terrible - like something you might find in a biology lab or pathologists’ refrigerator. Here in the UK we quite cheerily call that category of food offal, just as the French call it les abats, and the people who like liver, kidneys, giblets and all the rest find nothing icky about these terms. (I should confess to being a dedicated offal-scoffer myself - last month in Northern France I was thrilled to find cervelle de veau à la meunière on the brasserie menu, and absolutely exquisite it was.)

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Posted: 03 September 2014 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It’s not the terms that Americans find icky, it’s the meats themselves. Offal or variety meats are not a big thing in American cuisine. Beef liver may be the only variety that a significant portion of the population knowingly (i.e., not in sausage or other processed food) eats. Anything else is exotic. Outside of specialty butcher or ethnic shops, you almost never see it on display, and I would bet that many types of offal common in the UK can’t even be found in a standard US supermarket, not even if you ask for it at the meat counter.

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Posted: 03 September 2014 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Actually, the word “offal” is rather repulsive to me; in the US I had only encountered it in the context of the stuff you throw out when dressing and cleaning a dead animal, so I was quite taken aback to see it listed in the ingredients on a can of haggis on my first trip to Scotland. 

It’s also true that I’m fairly repulsed by organ meats generally: I don’t like liver per se, and have never tried kidneys.  OTOH, I enjoy haggis and paté if it’s not too strongly liverish.

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Posted: 03 September 2014 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Probably doesn’t help that offal sounds a bit like “awful”.

Liver is an ordinary kind of food, while kidneys are something I would eat occasionally. Brains, tongue, heart, tripe, I have had each I think once. My wife likes lung. Anything more exotic than that, I’ve not tried.

[ Edited: 03 September 2014 03:56 PM by OP Tipping ]
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Posted: 03 September 2014 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It seems a little odd to me that tongue is included in this category, since it’s just muscle (yeah, so is heart, but that’s a different kind of muscle).  Smoked tongue is quite tasty as I recall.

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Posted: 03 September 2014 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’ve never eaten sweetbread either, which apparently can mean thymus, pancreas, testicles and various other bits and bobs.

Also never tried spleen or penis.

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Posted: 03 September 2014 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Rocky Mountain oysters (testicles of bull calves) are popular in America West and tripe ( offal from the stomach of the various farm animals) is very popular in Europe and Mexico, but not so much in America.

Horse meat is also a very common dish served mainly in the Puglia region of Italy.

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Posted: 03 September 2014 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Given the moral standards (save the mark!) of food manufacturers the world over, and their ingenuity in circumventing regulations, I suspect that Americans may be eating a lot more offal than they think they are. I read recently about a (very profitable) technique for blasting every last shred of flesh from the bones of slaughtered animals (using compressed air) and putting it into hamburger and other prepared meat foods. Do you really think they’re going to stop short of mincing animal ears, intestines, reproductive organs, placentas (after extraction of the hormones), bronchia, eyes, blood vessels, and other animal parts, and feeding them to you, if they can possibly get away with it? *

On a lighter note: lunching with my father in Santiago de Chile, many (oh, so many!) years ago, I watched him order, and eat with great relish, a portion of calf’s snout (hocico de ternero). He was greatly amused (and not in the least put off) when I asked him if he was sure they’d blown the nostrils before cooking them…..

* If you think your pets are getting that stuff, stop kidding yourselves. The (very) small print on a can of cat food tells me (because the law here says it must) that the contents include 4 (four) percent meat products. the other 96% is vegetable material, water, etc. The can is labelled DUCK. Not in small print.

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Posted: 04 September 2014 02:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I read recently about a (very profitable) technique for blasting every last shred of flesh from the bones of slaughtered animals (using compressed air) and putting it into hamburger and other prepared meat foods.

Which, once you’ve paid for the machinery, is presumably going to be cheaper and result in an easier-to-use product than centrifuging and sieving, which have been used for nearly fifty years to produce the amorphous stuff of animal origin (known in the trade as ‘pink slime’) that goes into hot dogs, mortadella and luncheon meats, burgers, pie fillings and the like. Since the BSE scare it doesn’t (at least in the EU) include any spinal cord, brains or other potentially dangerous organs; but certainly bits like eyelids, udders, tails, feet and the like are included.

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Posted: 04 September 2014 03:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Rocky Mountain oysters (testicles of bull calves) are popular in America West

I’m not sure how “popular” they actually are. My experience is that the listing of Rocky Mountain oysters on the menu is a point of regional pride, but not that many are actually consumed (outside of drunks trying to prove they are authentically Western).

In the US, the only organ meat that I’ve deliberately eaten is liver (beef and chicken) and, once, tongue (although like Dr. T, I wouldn’t consider that organ meat). I quite like liver, but was indifferent to the tongue. And I’m pretty much game to try any food; I’m not squeamish. I’ve seen testicles on menus in certain regions and tripe in well-stocked butcher shops, but that’s pretty much it. They’re available, but it takes a bit of searching. (As I said before, I’m not talking about the presence of organ meat in sausage and processed foods; that’s something quite different.)

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Posted: 04 September 2014 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Do you really think they’re going to stop short of mincing animal ears, intestines, reproductive organs, placentas (after extraction of the hormones), bronchia, eyes, blood vessels, and other animal parts, and feeding them to you, if they can possibly get away with it?

Actually, the possibility that such stuff is in my lunchmeat/sausage/hamburger doesn’t bother me, as long as its minced up fine enough not to be noticeable.  (I guess I’m not so much squeamish as just a picky eater.)

In the US, lungs are strictly forbidden from products intended for human (possibly even animal) consumption.  I think it’s because of the possibility of spreading tuberculosis, whose germs are relatively heat-resistant.  This makes it impossible to make proper haggis in the US, although I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes.  I have a hard time imagining a Scotsman sampling some, making a face, and saying, “There’s nae enough lung.”

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Posted: 04 September 2014 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I think we tend simply to like what we’re used to, regardless of objective considerations. In North America, many people will happily pay inordinate sums of money to consume the cooked legs of one arachnid ("Alaskan King Crab"), whereas they might recoil in distaste from the cooked legs of another arachnid (the tarantula), which are a delicacy in parts of tropical South America. De gustibus non disputandum.

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Posted: 04 September 2014 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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King crabs are crustaceans, not arachnids (ditto for spider crabs, despite the name).  I’m not saying that makes the willingness to eat one but not the other more rational, but it’s biologically incorrect to call them arachnids.  (Edit: apparently there are no true marine arachnids, although there is an obscure group of arthropods commonly called “sea spiders”.)

[ Edited: 04 September 2014 07:36 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 04 September 2014 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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The liver plays an active role in the process of digestion and the production of bile.  Bilirubin present in bile is a product of the liver’s digestion of worn out red blood cells.  These cells in the liver catch and destroy old, worn out red blood cells.

The function of the stomach (tripe) is to break down food in order to extract necessary nutrients from what one has eaten.

Why is one of these organs more attractive as a food source than the other?  It’s all a matter of presentation and custom.

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