Here’s A Tongue At You

Yes, yes, I know I have not had much to say since I have been back from Kenya, or perhaps too much to say and I can find no time to say it. I came back and started working almost immediately; well, someone had to pay for all that travel. Meanwhile I am living off the kindness of not strangers but good friends. I spend my weeks, weekends, and other weekends with different friends in their homes around New York City. Thank you all for letting me bunk on your couches and in your extra rooms.

I have been spending the majority of my time with my good friend Jessica and Mike, and that is where this story begins. Mike has been taking a culinary journey of his own these past few weeks – a journey from CSA to full deli deliciousness!  Inspired by the fact that their CSA offered a meat choice of tongue, Mike decided to brine and cook his first ever beef tongue!

But the story goes further than that, what would be the justice of a well-cooked piece of meat otherwise thrown together with a few store bought ingredients? Not when this tongue came from a CSA and a grass fed cow who had a good life! For this only the best would do. So Mike set out and made two mustards to top the tongue – one stone ground and pungent traditional mustard of deep yellow color, and the other spiked with the sweet flavor and purple color of roasted beets met with the sharp spice of horse radish.

The brine experience took over 10 days to perfect. We had parts of the experience that reflected science experiments – adding enough salt to water to the point where an egg floats – yes try that one with your kids.

The meat itself was finished off in a simmering bath amidst a fine mirepoix. The smell was of a good Jewish yenta’s house.

To complete the experience Mike thought that the only fitting canvas for such a delectable pallet would be to bake his own Rye Bread. Yes you read correctly, every part of this meal from scratch – mustard, tongue, and bread.

And it was in fact my first tongue, nothing like the giraffe kiss in Kenya. This one was more like a brisket. And for a lady who considers herself almost a vegetarian you might be asking why did you eat this? And the answer is easy, for the same reason I ate the brain taco in May. After traveling through third world countries where they eat whatever they are fortunate to have – bugs, wild boar, their pet chicken – who am I to turn down a lovingly prepared tongue. Also, there is a respect I found in these parts of the world and cultures that use every part of an animal. For a partial vegetable-only eater I liked that the life that was taken to make my dinner was going to have every part and organ used. And hey, I fancy myself a person who likes new experiences. So what’s next??? Tripe??? I don’t think I am exactly ready for that yet.

But thank you Mike. Thank you for taking me along your culinary journey. Thank you for having a passion and zest for creating this full culinary experience. And thank you for showing me the beauty in the tongue.


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08 2011

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