Serving animal dishes with the head attached...ewww...why?

Too late to edit this into my previous reply.

My B-i-L is from Maine, and he corroborates this. It identified you as a “poor kid” at school if you had lobster in your lunchbox.

I guess we should share the calves. :wink:

My mother says that lobster was cheap when she was a child, and became expensive with the advent of refrigerated trucking. The local waters produced both far more lobster than the locals wanted to eat, and far less than the nation wanted to eat.

Heh, when I was visiting when my sister and husband lived there, I never had too much lobster!

Many years ago, I waitressed at Perkins for a while, and we had liver and onions on the menu. We got occasional orders here and there…except for the evening when one group of senior citizens after another came in, and many if not most, or all, of them included multiple L&O orders. You could smell that cooking out in the dining room, and the cooks were starting to turn green.

LOL. I can empathize.

'Zactly. They used to feed lobster to convicts on hulks because it was considered valueless nasty sea-critters free for the taking, not a delicacy

Another vote that @Shalmanese upthread has found a nice just-so story with little basis in fact. Any white American who lived rural in 1900 ate the whole pig, squeal and all. Ditto the whole cow from nose to tail and everything in between. Calve’s foot jelly was a Midwest middle class thing for a reason.

The worst and the best bits were both comparatively rare, and, e.g. a cow, produced a lot of muscle meat compared to any of the organs or accessories.

One could as easily argue that cow eyes were a top 1 percentile for-rich-folks-only-delicacy or that they were a 99th percentile residue suitable only for slaves or pets. It’s definitely not even 1% of the cow. Whether it’s considered the top or bottom 1% is a matter of cuisine and historical accident.

One more call for “cite”. Or any links at all using the words “black meat” in anything similar to that context.

Cites for which part? That meat became racialized during the slavery era is fairly well established. Black southern food traditions trace directly back to how slaves were given different cuts of meat from their masters which led to black food traditions. Btw: it wasn’t just offal that was racialized, things like brisket were also considered offcuts by their masters which led to the southern black invention of BBQ to deal with tough cuts of meat but brisket has been reappropriated by white culture so its racialized history has been erased.

That offal is prized in most cultures? Again, like well established but difficult to find authoritative cites for except for the lived experiences of those cultures.

That meat in America became racialized due to racism? I admit this is me making a conjecture by putting 1 + 1 together to make 2 but here’s the thing: It’s impossible to find anyone even asking the question of what was the historical development of Americans not eating offal. I’ve looked at both the popular and scholarly research and it’s just taken as a given, not even worthwhile of inquiry. Offal is obviously yucky so when White Americans had the chance to stop eating it, they obviously did, end of story. If there’s an authoritative explanation that refutes my conjecture, I’m happy to reconsider my view but I find it curious that there does not seem to be.

My larger point behind it was not about offal, but about the reality of the slave state of America, where everything became racialized, even the meat. The nature of the “scientific racism” of the time was that elaborate systems of logic were set up to justify why it was the natural order for whites to dominate over blacks and this system needed to justify an unjust system so everything was perverted into its “logic” in order to maintain the system. Even though the system has disappeared, the effects of those arbitrary justifications have lived on till today, not only in the relatively harmless stuff like the lack of offal, but in so many other facets of our existence, including the system of white supremacy that makes us uninterested in why we even stopped eating offal.

If we’re talking about the days before refrigeration, perhaps the head would show that the meat was fresh. I’m thinking about the eyes particularly.

Obviously yucky. End of story.


Since this thread is about heads, Anissa Helou, who wrote The Fifth Quarter

exclusively about offal, had this to say:

Helou on eyes:

Cecil has addressed this:

ISTM that the argument “White Americans stopped eating offal because of racism because offal was ‘black people’s food’” is circular. If white Americans originally liked offal so much, how did it become “black people’s food” in the first place?

AFAICT, prosperous white Americans preferred the roasts and joints and steaks ultimately because in traditional English cuisine, roasts and joints and steaks were “party food”. The more you could have a big ol’ hunk of meat all in one piece instead of thriftily assembled bits and fragments, the richer you were and/or the more festive your meal.

Consequently, in a large grazing-rich country where meat was readily available for non-impoverished white people, it became routine for those who could afford it to eat the “party food” meat all the time. And other types of meat became stigmatized as scraps for poor people, both black Americans and white immigrants.

Exactly the same thing happened more recently, AFAICT, with chicken. Chicken before the mid-20th century was widely considered a luxury food for invalids and the wealthy—despite its simultaneous association with African-American cuisine, which was so stereotypical that it’s still a racist joke in some circles. When mass production made chicken more readily available and cheaper, white Americans started scoffing down wagonloads of the stuff. Again, it’s a case of party food → everyday food if you can afford it.

Same for shrimp even more recently. Within the last thirty-five years or so, shrimp was still considered a special treat. The proliferation of farm-raised shrimp turned this party food into an everyday food.

So I don’t think you need anything more than that to explain the initial preference for non-organ meats among affluent white Americans. In their ancestral culture, the roasts and joints were the high-status types of meat. And when you can afford it, you eat the high-status types of meat all the time. No racial prejudice need be invoked to justify that original bias away from organ meats.

Sorry if I missed this upthread, but every time I see this thread title I think it is about eating service animals.

If only! I could have a field day rounding up "Karen"s’ (male or female) nasty little fake “service animal” critters and making a giant cauldron of yorkie/cock-a-poo stew.

This is purely an example of what I’m talking about. Cecil just blithely writes “prosperous whites dined on the choice hog meat and left their slaves to make do with the guts.” and doesn’t bother inquiring further about why hog meat is choice and guts are left to the slaves because obviously hog meat is choice except… why?

Why did they stop eating brisket and ribs and chicken wings and oxtails? All things which white culture has gradually reappropriated as they discovered how delicious they were. This is the legacy of white supremacy (which, btw, doesn’t just apply exclusively to America but the entire colonialist project like the British colonization of India and how the British diet changed to define themselves against the empire).

Whites had to intellectually justify why it was a fair and just system that whites had dominion over blacks and so they constructed an entire intellectual edifice to make that belief seem logical. So they had to “construct” blackness, blacks were brutish, they were bestial, they were dirty, they were unintelligent, they were driven by base emotions, they were violent, they were animalistic. But in constructing blackness, they also had to construct whiteness in opposition, whites were calm and logical and clean and refined and civilized and the peak of human evolution away from animals. White supremacy was a totalizing system in that everything became fair game to be sucked into this system. Anything that blacks did, it must be proof that it was the inherent inferiority of blackness that caused them to do it, anything that whites did, it must be proof that it was the inherent superiority of whiteness that caused them to do that.

And so you had phrases like “high off the hog” which literally mapped distance off the ground to being “civilized” and, therefore white. The bits of the pig touching the ground were “dirty” and “bestial” so they should be given to the black people which are dirty and bestial and that black people ate them was evidence that black people were dirty and bestial.

Notice how the same tropes have survived to this day in, eg. media depictions like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The food choices of the natives were there to tell you that these people were savages who were corrupted by not eating the good, clean, normal foods of the white people and that’s tied into the savage behavior of the natives. Notice how closely how Western negative stereotypes of the food match onto negative stereotypes of non-Western people. Things like gnawing on bones, eating bloody meat, ripping large chunks out with your hands and teeth, drinking blood and eating organs are tied to being primitive, bestial, out of control of our emotions, feral etc. These are things Western culture will occasionally appropriate, to eg, suggest machoness or being in touch with nature etc, but where did these associations come from?

Except that’s not what traditional English cuisine was at all. Steak and Kidney pie was a kidney pie cut with steak because kidney was considered the more precious food. The royal court had dishes like four and twenty blackbirds which were small birds baked whole in a pie so that the entire bird could be enjoyed. Cockscombs were like, the ultimate flex in royal courts because to make a single dish of cockscombs, you had to kill like, 30 roosters. If you look at what English royalty ate over time, yes there were large joints of meat because large joints of meat were a flex but you also had plenty of hogsheads, cockscombs, larks tongues, forcemeats, game pies and all sorts of stuff that decidedly did not become the American idea of a festive meal.

Yeah, but I very much doubt that in the 16th-18th centuries ordinary prosperous English people’s notions of what constituted “party food” were really based on the menus of royal banquets. Standard “party food” in any demographic is the stuff you splurge on for special occasions in your own social circle, not the elite luxury dishes of your social superiors that you may never have seen in all your life.

The English burghers and small squires who gave rise to the colonial American white elites feasted on the big-ass roasts and joints, not on the super-recherche larks’ tongue pies and such of the royal household. AFAICT, that adequately explains why the big-ass roasts and joints became everyday fare among the colonial American white elites in a land where meat was abundant.


I like Kimstu’s overall point, but maybe “party food” is better rendered as “feast food”. For the kinds of feasts at your own socioeconomic level.

So Kings dine on lark’s tongue while comfortable merchants make do with prime rib. And successful farmers enjoy a ham. etc.

To be fair, I can see how my previous unqualified references to “elite” and “high-status” foods could have given rise to the impression that I wasn’t just talking about the comfortable middle classes. When the squire’s son turns twenty-one you roast an ox, you don’t start tearing the tongues out of thousands of larks.

Well, for one thing, you don’t have to clean literal shit out of a pork loin before you cook it. Chitterlings are infamously not fun to clean prior to preparing as food (or sausage casing). Food that requires nasty, smelly processing is likely going to perceived as less desirable than food that’s relatively easy to get ready for cooking and serving.

Just a guess, mind you, but sometimes there are practical reasons for valuing something more or less than something else.

I think you’re ignoring class aspects that go back way father than colonial American and the antebellum south. During the Middle Ages “upper crust” wasn’t just another way to say “aristocrat” - the social betters during a feast might, literally be served the “upper crust”, that is, the upper half of a loaf of bread. There were elaborate rules of who could eat what that very much were connected to status.

This extended down to terms for food the animals it came from - aristocrats dined on pork from the pigs the poor raised. Hence why we eat “steak” instead of “cow”, or “veal” instead of “calf”. The was brought over with the rest of English language and culture to the new world. The rich plantation owners ate certain cuts of meat not because they were White, they ate them because they were aristocrats, or fancied themselves to be. Poor people of any color were eating offal and organ meats and so forth because they couldn’t afford to waste any type of meat, or might only be able to afford the bits the more well off Whites wanted. Slaves, of course, were at the very bottom so they ate a lot more of those undesirable things, along with stuff like “greens” that could be easily gathered or grown in quantity on a patch of land also tended to be lesser value but the upper classes.

Hog intestines don’t touch the ground. Just sayin’…

Your assertions fall down with blood sausage, czarnina, various puddings, and so forth enjoyed by many Europeans.

^ This makes some sense.