In the Land of the Free where we eat what we please, it is hard to imagine using more of a product than the same ol’ thigh, breast, or wing. But all over the world, cutting up a fish or animal and using every single part is common practice.. While the varieties run the gamut, I have broken it down so it’s easier to stomach. Blood, Brains, Body, and Booze. (Reader discretion advised…)
In places like Hungary, Trinidad, Sweden, China, and all over Europe, pig’s blood is used for dishes such as blood and eggs, blood pudding – much like rice pudding –, blood dumplings, jellied blood, and of course, blood sausage (the only food my brother doesn’t like), all respectively. Blood sausage is known and Boudin in France and Blutwurst in Germany so be sure to know what you are ordering.
Not only used for thinking, but also for nourishment, who woulda thought?! Right here in the U.S. of A. dishes like squirrel brain grace tables in the South. Other places in the world enjoy calf’s brains, or tete de veau, in France; sheep’s head, called smalahove, in Sweden; and cow brains, made into “tacos sesos”, in Mexico.
This is where it gets interesting, seeing exactly how consumers get the most if their meat. Monkey toes in Indonesia for example, deep-fried and eaten off the bone like our version of chicken wings. “Borewors” from South Africa are sheep, pig, and cow intestines stuffed with meat and off cuts, much like our version of sausage. Have the BBQ on? Why not try skewered rat like in Thailand. Got a smoker in your house? How about smoked bat like in Indonesia. If those aren’t for you maybe you would rather try dried bugs or lizards like in Beijing or Hong Kong? A little closer to home of course is the cow’s foot, usually jellied in Poland and called “nozki” or “p’tcha” in the Jewish religion. If that wasn’t enough use of your cow, you could always use the lungs too like they do in Malaysia and the Philippians. I am starting to feel like we are being very wasteful here!
Last but certainly not least are the many wondrous things our human race does with the art of fermentation. Though definitely not as…well, interesting, as the foods listed above, these liquors certainly break the mold. If you are, like me, a big fan of artichokes, try “Cynar” from Italy, a bitter liqueur made from artichokes. (There also exists a non-alcoholic artichoke tea from Vietnam). “Kvass”, from Russia is for beer lovers and is a beer-like beverage made by fermenting old bread in water. And from Greece, “Retsina” takes a different twist on white wine by adding pine resin. The story goes that the church imposed taxes on wines not altered in an attempt to discourage drinking. But as these things go, the people developed a taste for the cheap stuff!