Maybe this sounds weird, but the thought of another tongue in my mouth next to my own tongue made me cringe a little. I mean, what if I forgot which tongue I was supposed to be chewing? What if my teeth couldn't tell the difference? It's hard enough not to bite my tongue when it's numb from Novocaine - how would my jaw manage differentiating between multiple tongues?
So, there's been a taco truck that sets up shop next to the Echo Park Walgreens for as long as I can remember. It's called Tacos Arizas. Now, I've always been curious about it, but whenever I was in Echo Park it meant I was visiting my extended family, and that meant one thing: meat. Grandmas and aunts and mothers and cousins all cooking ridiculous amounts of meat. Chopped liver. Borscht (yes, this has beef all over the place according to their recipe). Enchiladas verdes con pollo. Essic-fleish. Spareribs - Korean or European style.
The last thing I ever wanted on top of all of that was a meaty meat-taco.
But Saturday, I had my chance. I had fifteen minutes left on the parking meter from shopping and I was starving. I ran over to the truck and ordered three tacos: buche, carnitas, and yes, lengua.
I didn't take a picture because: a) I was too busy spilling salsa all over my car as it was, and b) it was in my stomach before I knew it.
Tongue is like a cross between tender muscle meat and liver! It's juicy, not chewy at all, and much, much more forgiving to chew on than, say, many steaks. Why did no one inform me of its wonders earlier?
I feel like being raised in the States - for most of us, anyway - is like being raised in a parallel universe where animals just magically lack certain body parts. They have flanks, they have breasts, they have ribs and muscles and bellies, but their heads have disappeared into the air. And their hearts, and their organs, and their intestines, and their feet, and their spines too - when the animal is killed, these parts just shrivel up and disintegrate in little puffs of smoke.
And that makes me feel like for most of my life I have been complicit in a supreme conspiracy of waste, of toddler-like pickiness. What is inherently wrong or gross about eating these invisible parts of the animal? If you don't like the flavor or texture of a certain part after you've tried it, that's just fine. But I doubt nearly an entire country would spit out a sashimi-like smooth chunk of tendon or a chewy, fatty intestine if its source were hidden, or sugar-coated.
It sounds like I'm frustrated, and admittedly there is a bit of that, but the overwhelming feeling is that the world of unexplored meat cuts is like an endless platter of potential favorites laid out before me.
What cut next?