Friday, February 20, 2009

eatingCULTURE/tastes: Eat your liver.

Opinions in eating.

Are there any foods you don't eat? Bordeaux and I have been cooking for other people quite often lately, so we've been finding out a lot about what different people won't eat: no egg, no basil, no cilantro, no tofu, no chili. In comparison, I tend to think of myself as really eating almost everything-- though every now and then, I do run up against something that I'm not exactly eager to try. Like liver.

Had I ever eaten liver before? I doubt it-- but somehow I got it into my head that I wouldn't like it, perhaps from some mass pop-culture aversion to the stuff. But my mission this year is to learn all about boerekos, and it's impossible to do that without at least eating a little liver. And really, I admire the eating of liver-- if you're going to eat an animal, it's more responsible to eat the whole animal.

So at an outdoor cafe in Pretoria, I ordered a simple meal of chicken livers on toast. The dark grey livers arrived in a small bowl, bathed in peri peri, a South African hot pepper sauce. I spread it on the toast, and gave it a try. I have to admit, my first taste was a little off-putting. The slightly metallic tang, the stodgy texture. But it grew on me-- despite its downsides, it has some rather redeeming qualities. It certainly has far more flavor than most meat, possesses a richer taste and complexity, and took on the spice of the peri peri well. I could certainly see ordering it again-- with less hesitation next time.

7 comments:

jen laceda said...

My husband would love this dish. he loves animal (in particularly chicken) liver and heart. Meanwhile, I'm suck a big chicken (no pun inteded) when it comes to eating them. We have a traditional Filipino food called "dinuguan" and it's made from pork liver, pork meat and pork blood. I like the pork meat and pork blood (not as bad as you think), but the pork liver, i can't stand.

Anyway, as usual, your photography is great!

A Girl in Asia said...

You're very brave! I also like to think I eat everything (quite unfussy really) but I my exception is anything offal-related. I guess I haven't even tried much of it - it just turns me off! Interested to learn more about Sth African cuisine..

carolyn Gavin said...

i grew up with chopped liver as a staple on Friday nights at my Grandparents for dinner. i could NEVER stomach the stuff, although its very high in iron... very brave of you to actually eat it! i'm loving your blog again, now that you're back in SA!

Chris said...

The common comment about liver is that it's the body's filter system ... so ... you wonder why you would eat the thing that filters things out ... like eating a dirty fishtank filter or something ...

I have no idea if livers actually contain anything bad. I would assume it would send the impurities out of the body somehow. Can anyone enlighten us about this common conception?

Robyn said...

My mom tried to force liver and onions on me when I was a kid so I eschewed it for decades. Northern-style Thai laab turned it for me, and then a gorgeous whipped duck liver with toast in Australia. I wouldn't say I eat it all the time, but if duck/chicken liver with toast is on the menu in a restaurant, I'm there.
This dish sounds great ... how about a recipe?
Oh, and glad you are blogging somewhat regularly again.

d said...

X: growing up my mom always had problems with anemia...she has an extremely rare blood type...anyway, some old-time doc recommended foods rich in iron....liver. We had it once a week. I absolutely hated it. I would pour sugar over it just to get it down my throat. thank god there are iron pills now. Was in New Zealand last year and loved the food. It is a blend of british, indian, tropics, japanese, hawaiian...I loved it!! Having spent my childhood in Panama, I loved the fact that at the NZ market there would be apples next to mangos, next to coconut next to grapes...sandwiches served with thick slices of brie and papaya or ginger cookies covered in passion fruit. I wished I would have set up a blog like this...this is great work!! absolutely fascinating!! your blog is 10 times better than a couple of cooking blogs i follow. will bookmark it. debbie klecan

Stephen said...

I love liver! I would always scrape the onions off and coat it in ketchup. There's stuff in liver you can't get in any other food. I don't remember what though.