Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Head Cheese: Rogue of Luncheon Meat.
Most cold cuts are dull. Baloney, ham, and turkey are homogeneous. Olive loaf is a bit goofy, like someone in a pop art shirt. Head Cheese steals the show. That crazy mosaic of flesh and tongue, suspended in dishwater gelatin. Look up close and you can see skin layers and taste buds.
It's the one meat product (the other is octopus) that kids giggle about at the butcher counter.
Head Cheese is honest. You can see exactly what you're eating. Some people get grossed out by the tongue, but I figure, there's already one in your mouth., so it can't be that alien.
Baloney and hot dogs grind their contents into putty. How do I know the grinders aren't adding stuff that doesn't belong as a goof?
The gelatanous element also disgusts people. Meat chunks seem out of place in Jello. At least toss in some pineapple rings, one thinks. But, technically, gelatin comes from skin and bones. A home-made head cheese actually uses the head if the pig to derive the gloop. Who knew a pig's head could come in so handy? Again, it's honest. The gelatinous element isn't masquerading as fruity goodness. It's saying "I'm not ashamed of my origins! Behold: my fellow pieces of pig."
Do I eat the stuff? Not much, but if I had to choose between a slice of head cheese and a slice of baloney, I'd pick head cheese.
One final thought:
Head Cheese comes from the pig's head. Baloney comes from the other end. Take your pick.