GOOD

The Offal Truth

Chris Cosentino is using historical recipes to turn offal-the entrails and organs we usually discard-into a new American delicacy. If...

Chris Cosentino is using historical recipes to turn offal-the entrails and organs we usually discard-into a new American delicacy.

If you were cooking 2,000 years ago, you would have to use local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. And, because meat was hard to come by, you would use the entire animal, including the offal (literally "off-fall")-the entrails and internal organs of your slaughter.


At San Francisco's Incanto restaurant, chef Chris Cosentino is reviving old recipes that incorporate offal and other "odd cuts." For reference, feast your eyes on just some of Cosentino's unconventional ingredients: beef heart, cured tuna heart, lamb kidneys, lamb heart, candied rooster crests, pastramied ox tongue, and lamb spleen.GOOD chatted with Cosentino to learn about his historical approach to food, what sort of tastes we're regularly missing out on, and how best to sell pig's head in America.GOOD: Why is history so important to your food?CHRIS COSENTINO: History was the only part of school that I really enjoyed as a kid: history and English literature. I remember the food in The Great Gatsby and in Macbeth. I remember wondering what it was like to be Gatsby living in Newport, Rhode Island, wondering what the oysters tasted like at those parties, thinking about the feasts in Macbeth, about the wine in those goblets. Food is about a shared connection to time and place.G: And you make a point of using parts of the animal they might have eaten in Macbeth's time. Should we be less squeamish about these foods now?

CC: People don't know that things that started out simply as byproducts of food preparation became cooking techniques themselves. Byproducts created braising, created pates, they created things like charcuterie and blood sausage. Look at Europe or Asia; the United States is the only place that doesn't traditionally eat these things, we are the exception to the norm. Take beef tongue. Beef tongue is huge in Japan; it's like ten dollars a pound for grass-fed beef tongue. Here in the U.S. it's four dollars a pound. So do we eat it? No, we export this excellent grass-fed product and we make a lot of money. But who is winning? We win on money and they win on flavor.G: Is offal a harder sell in America in general?CC: When thinking about offal you have to think about what I call the culture of texture. In America it's crispy: we love crunchy and fried foods. In China they love soft and gelatinous foods. Japan likes chewy, the Italians more al dente. Understanding the culture of texture is a big dynamic when I prepare these cuts of meat. Offal isn't only about the ingredient so much as the texture. Tripe, for example, is much easier to sell when I deep-fry it. If I put "crispy" anything on the menu it sells faster. It's easy for me to sell crispy pig's head, it's not easy for me to move soft pig's head.G: People are paying more attention to what they eat these days. Is that helping you find an audience?CC: All of a sudden we are relearning how to eat. When I was a kid, did I see watermelons in the middle of the grocery store in the winter? Fuck no-it's the magic of the airplane. Do we really need to put food in a plane and fly it 3,000 miles? I love ramps from the East Coast where I grew up. Sometimes I even get them at the market, but in the West we have nettles, wild onions, chickweed, wood sorrel, miner's lettuce, and all this beautiful freeway fennel. Every area has something that is available. Eating regionally can be done-we have a rooftop herb garden and we harvest things from upstairs when they are ready to be eaten.What I really love about the way food is going now is that we've had this huge push in both directions. Ferran Adrià has opened up an experimental inventiveness of food. There needs to be people who push forward and others that go backwards. There needs to be more than one style of food, more than one thought process. My process is historical.G: Do you think offal cooking is more sustainable?

CC: If you buy a radish you eat the greens and the radish. You learn to use the entire thing. We have a tendency to just throw things away. If you're willing to sacrifice an animal for food than you should be willing to eat the whole thing. If you've got bruised strawberries, make fucking jam. It's not hard, just pay attention, and use all of your resources. Ultimately, what we need to worry about is getting people enough good food to eat. I've told kids I'm a chef and had them ask me "McDonald's, Burger King, or KFC?" That's fucked up.G: Seasonal eating is more sustainable, too. Have we forgotten when to eat what?CC: Find a recipe for the season and maximize what you have when you have it. When the season for a food is upon us, use the whole ingredient. Use all the tomatoes in the summer, use all the squash in fall. Instant noodles have been around longer than international air travel. Everyone wants convenience and ease. There's nothing wrong with wanting these things, but there's nothing wrong with working for something either.Porchetta di Testa photo by Lisa Hamilton; Chris Cosentino photo by Michael Harlan Turkell; Pig's Head photo courtesy Chris Cosentino; Incanto restaurant photo courtesy Incanto. Learn more at Offal Good and Boccalone.
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via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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Culture
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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Politics
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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