Thursday, December 11

Fergus Henderson

Fergus Henderson champions 'nose to tail' eating. Photograph: Suki Dhanda

England is offal. No other country treats organs and innards like a delicacy. Even the French, who know how to surprise with their haute cuisine, stay away from certain parts of animal or at least give the various bits sly names foie gras or escargots. Today, and a sign of the recessionary times: tongues, hearts and brains are experiencing a surge in popularity here, with sales up 67% over the past five years. They are also cheaper, you see.

Says Fergus Henderson, whose restaurant St John's is a favorite: "It was never a mission to start the offal ball rolling, it just seemed common sense, good eating." (Ferguson's cooking best-seller is "Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking"). 

Back in the day, I hated liver and became violently ill trying to force it down at my parents behest (at least I like to remember it this way). Eggplant was also gnarly, though I love it now. Eitan and Madeleine have foods they do not like but nothing repulsing; usually it is general complaint that drives every hard-working mother insane: "Aw mom, not this again." 

Back to the present: our neighborhood butcher, R Chubb & Son (and yes, it is a father and son affair) present selections which are frozen, prepared and cut on site unlike the groceries where meats pre-packed and from God knows where. Chubb is a portly, friendly fellow too - he gets me and Eitan tickets to Fulham matches which are particularly valuable when Fulham plays Chelsea or Manchester United. Chubbs hands and apron usually covered in blood and he moves slowly, considering a chop then - whack! - down comes his knife severing a joint or cutting flank. Bones bring out the saw. It is a gruesome affair, no doubt, but best to seen given where it goes.

"O! beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on."
Iago in Othello