I have to give credit to my good friend Mannie Barling for giving me the idea for this story. I grew up in an Offal world, so it really never bothered me. In fact I like some of it. The concept is easy, if you have an animal you want to eat as much of it as possible. Unlike the survival strategists on popular TV channels, I have to admit that eye balls just do not do it for me. Neither am I a huge fan of Prairie Oysters , if faced with no other option, I personally think that Vodka and really hot sauce helps.

Todays modern world however does not seem to be as offal friendly.

Mannie had me in stitches over his Liver story. Neither he, nor his brothers were fans of Thursdays, this was liver day.

“It’s full of iron” his mother would explain. Mannie and his brothers merely viewed Liver as a form of torture that contravened the Geneva Convention. They invented ever more devious ways to dispose of the offending stuff on their plate.

Mannie’s mother caught on early to the scam of putting it in their pockets for later disposal. I assume she spotted the liver while washing the kids pants. My wife gripes at me if she finds loose change in the bottom of the washer, so I can only imagine what she might say if she located a piece of fried liver in the washer.

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Mannie and his brothers became more creative after their mother started checking their pockets as they left the dinner table. Liver was hid in shoes, liver was hid in socks, liver was chopped fine and placed under the seat cushions.

The boys continued to get busted!

Using the ingenuity that only young boys possess, they came up with the ultimate plan, Tape a plastic bag to the inside of your leg, not even mother would suspect this cunning method of liver disposal.

I will wait for another day to expand on that story…..  In fact I will embarrass Mannie into telling it!

I guess I am strange, I am like the people on those food channels that are willing to put just about anything in their mouth. Liver and onions is a dish that I would take over Fillet Mignon. Head Cheese (brains) is nothing short of yummy. I’d pick that over the very finest Pate (liver).

I am not quite as keen on Heart, but if it is cooked right it is a wonderful dish. When cooked with a ‘hearty’ red wine sauce, it is amazing.

I am not so mad keen on Tripe, even cooked in milk, it does not hit the spot for me. It might just be the look, or the concept But it just doesn’t work for me.

Sweet Breads on the other hand, and coming from a slightly south part from the Tripe are fine dining.

The best of all the offal things though are kidneys. By themselves they are boring, but but in a Steak and Kidney pie this is offal that rules! There is something unique about the dish. It beats the mamby pamby French Cuisine to hell.

Of course the true art of Steak and Kidney pies has been lost. Real purveyors of this culinary treat know that a good pie is all about the crust. Shortcrust, or Flakey pastry does not cut it. The real deal is an art form. It is closer to Phillo dough than anything else. The outside layers are crisp and shinny from the egg wash, the inner layers, soft and delicious from absorbing the flavors brewing below them.

My next article will reveal the secrets of Steak and Kidney Pie. stay tuned.

Simon Barrett

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