After yesterday’s big Mexican bug binge, I started thinking about other foods along those lines I love no matter what. Is it weird that I just don’t see any food as gross? That no matter how foul the durian in Singapore smelled or how many grasshoppers one Oaxacan street vendor managed to fit in a taco, I still only see awesome food. This fact frequently lands me in the lair of the food poisoning beast, but whatever doesn’t kill you, right?
One such provision I will never turn my nose up at is tongue — beef tongue, in particular, although ducks and sheep have great ones too. To my knowledge, the use of tongue in deli sandwiches originated right here in good old New York…and quickly moved down to West Palm Beach as soon as it got cold.
Ew, gross, tongue, ew. Now that you’ve said your piece, here’s how it tastes: picture a corned beef ribeye (just picture it!) tenderized and injected with bone marrow, sliced thinly and piled on bouncy rye. Or a marrow-injected tenderized ribeye charbroiled, chopped and piled in a tortilla with some guac and a squeeze of lime. Are you mad at that? If you’re at all a fan of corned beef, ribeye or bone marrow or the past, present and future of great tacos, tongue is the deli meat for you.
Sometimes, more often than not at a deli with my grandma, I order the über-Jew (not the actual name of this sandwich): tongue and chopped liver on rye with coleslaw and a pickle. The waiter always lets me know that it’s a lot of food — he is not incorrect, Jewish delis pile sandwiches so high you’d have to unhinge your jaw to really sink your teeth in — and I always take it as a challenge to get as much extraordinary offal in my system as will fit.
And over the weekend during my trip to the Zignum mezcal distillery in Oaxaca, the endless stream of tacos I ate that weren’t grasshopper were most certainly lengua. Beef tongue is the poster child for never knowing how good certain parts of animals taste until they’re wrapped in a tortilla or flanked by squishy deli bread with all the right fixins. That said, if you actually saw a poster of a beef tongue I wouldn’t blame you if you never saw fit to try it.
More adventurous bits for lunch on Food Republic: