Depression Foods

My Mom was at the grocery store the other day buying beef tongue and attracted attention of some older lady who told her that her kids were recently asking her what people ate during the Great Depression; seeing the tongue in my Mom’s cart reminded her about eating it in her childhood.

Today Consumerist brought up the subject of increased demand for organ meats in the U.K. What people eat always fascinates me mostly because our acceptance of different foods is not a matter of taste but of a cultural upbringing. People who just a minute ago were describing the delicate taste of snake will make puking noises when they see me eating tongue. Someone who likes possum, turtle, armadillo will cringe when they see me eat beef liver and so on.

In this country organ meats are often more expensive than regular beef, pork and chicken, so calling them “Depression Foods” is somewhat of a stretch, they are more of a delicacy for us.

There are not many irregular food stuffs that I will eat: beef or chicken liver, chicken gizzards, beef tongue; nothing else too weird comes to mind. I like duck, I eat turkey and rabbit but very rarely. I tried a brain sandwich once without knowing what it was and it was delicious, but I will probably never knowingly volunteer to eat it again. I recently got a comment about eating smoked but otherwise uncooked bacon. I like salt-cured uncooked fish, smoked fish and dried fish. I can drink a raw egg. My Dad ate beef lungs, kidneys and whale meat when it was still sold in the USSR. This is probably as exotic as it gets in my family. I don’t have any valid reason for not trying other things except always popular “it’s disgusting!”, but I will understand how you feel about me grimacing when you talk about eating snails or whatever else you like, I get the same look when ordering tongue taco at the Mexican restaurant. Maybe some day I will become more open to eating other things, hopefully by choice and not by necessity, until then I am interested in what unconventional foods you find irresistible.

Note:deer meat is pretty conventional around here, unless you eat some non-meat parts of the deer it doesn’t count.

  • You’ve sparked another trip down memory lane. I answered your question in a blog entry.

  • Tongue is delicious. And for a fraction of the cost of more popular cuts, you get a lot of good meat. I wasn’t raised on it, and never had it until I lived in Ukraine, but then again I’ve always been an adventurous eater.

    On a related note, my grandfather used to love calf’s brain and egg sandwiches, and my uncle had dog when he was in Vietnam during the war and said it was really good.

  • As a kid I have had rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, deer, elk, and I am sure a couple critters I forgot. We also had beef heart (ground) and beef tongue. I could eat any of those.

    After I left home for the real world I tried liver (never liked it whether beef or chicken), rattlesnake (in a tasty chili), alligator (tasty but tough), buffalo (like it, especially as a sub for ground beef), oysters (meh), crawdads (yum), shark (liked it), squid (like it as both calamari and a grilled steak) and the one dish that is most divisive among people… sushi.

    I am generally willing to try something once, unless it is a really creepy vegetable like brussel sprouts.

  • Have you ever had turtle? Quite tasty down in the caymans…that is until you head to the turtle farm and feel like an a-hole for munchin on Franklin the Turtle the night prior

  • I travel for JOOLS

    My dad would fix turtle soup. It was like tomato soup. I refused to eat it. He also fixed head cheese and other disgusting things. People who were poor ate lots of those kinds of things. Didn’t waste anything. Now we (me) are spoiled. But, I have to tell you this. Remember if you eat liver you are eating every toxin that the animal has eaten.

  • Travel,

    “head” and “cheese” should never be used congruently in a sentence. Ewww, but funny.

  • Bearded clams. Delish!

  • midtown miscreant

    sheep balls,or calf balls. Most of my people are southern, and will eat anything that doesnt eat them first. Ive only had them when my mother made them, that tradition died with her.

  • dumbwhore

    The one thing I’ve drawn the line at was chicken’s feet. I was in Seoul and wanted barbeque but knew very little Korean. But we would order by pointing and so I pointed to something chili pepper red. The Atachi tried to tell me it was chicken. I paid her and ignored. My bad ass SF buddy ended up eating it when they got served.

    I didn’t not eat it because the crap on their feet. I didn’t eat it because I envisaged big chunks of chicken or beef in chili sauce and couldn’t sit around picking scraps off of chicken feet.

    I’ve eaten haggis and liver and such. I don’t much anymore because the organs are meant to filter the nasty shit out of your body. People used to eat them because we didn’t have multi-vitamins and needed all the weird trace vitamins and minerals from the animals organs.

    So now, there’s really not a need to eat them. And like you said, it’s a delicacy in many markets. But if you come down to the Argentine district I think you could find cheap organs for next to nothing. But not in HyVee’s, Whole Foods or Hen House.