Tongue in Cheek. Literally.

Yesterday, I overcame a fear that has been haunting me for the past ten years. It is never admirable for a chef to tell people that they are afraid to try certain foods.  I have happily tasted sweetbreads, heart, gutted fish, and cooked rabbit.  But I was scared, no, more like terrified and nauseated by the thought of eating…………..TONGUE!  (cue the horror music)

People have been trying to convince me for YEARS to eat this tender and supposedly delicious meat, but every time I had the opportunity I chickened out.  
Here’s how my fear began; About ten years ago I was working for a kosher caterer on Passover.  It was my first introduction into the catering world and mass food production.  I was mindlessly peeling about two hundred carrots over a trash can and drifting into my thoughts, when a small Russian lady came over to where I was working, plopped down a huge pan of large tongues.  I didn’t even notice she was there, until I started seeing taste buds being flung into the trash can.  Unrecognizable at first, I looked to see what was in the pan.  A large, grayish piece of meat with an uncanny resemblance to a massive human tongue. 

Newsflash – cow tongues look exactly like human tongues!  Nauseated, I pulled the “I think my peeler is broken” excuse and ran to the back of the room to gather my thoughts and breathe.  I remember my heart pounding and thinking for the first time in my life that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a chef.  If I couldn’t handle tongue, how was I supposed to ever handle liver, hearts and fish?  I was hoping that experience wouldn’t affect me, but it did…for the next ten years!     

Albert Einstein famously said, “I admit thoughts influence the body.”  This quote inspired me to build the courage to try tongue.  Solo has a new dish on the menu featuring  tongue.  I asked for a bite and was made a plate.  The mental image of tongue resonated in my mind as I stared at the sliced pieces on the plate in front of me.  I thought, “It’s now or never.”  I  changed my negative thoughts about tongue, took a bite, and it was absolutely delicious!  Tongue is such a tender piece of meat.  It is a little gamey, but nonetheless perfection.  I ate the whole thing and was left completely satisfied. Today, I keep thinking back to that first bite of tongue.  I am still a tad nauseated by the thought of it, but once I get past the mental image, I am able to thoroughly enjoy it.     

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19 thoughts on “Tongue in Cheek. Literally.”

  1. Great story Ali, I feel the same way. I have a vague recollection of trying it when I was young and not liking it and since then just being grossed out by the idea. But my 8 year old foodie son is interested in trying it, I guess I have to take him to Solo.

  2. Thank you Tamar! Your son just might be your motivation to try tongue! So courageous and adventurous of him. Solo is definitely a good place to try it for the first time, it is delicious!

  3. I ate tongue without knowing what it was about 25 years ago at an elaborate restaurant in Belgium. Thought it was steak and trusted the person that ordered our food. I nearly gagged once I was told what it was. I think it's all psychological. This is a delicacy, but I guess one that I can't seam to appreciate!

  4. I've never made or eaten tongue. I've always been terrified of it, but my father loves it. May have to try cooking it one of these days.

  5. Cute story (after the facts) .

    I personally don't like tongue, perhaps I just never got it served done right.
    thankfully I never saw in a raw state.

  6. OMG I totally relate to this! My mom always used to make tongue for the Yomim Tovim and my siblings and I were always grossed out. Unfortunately, none of us has been able to get passed the memory of her preparing that grayish mass in the kitchen. Apparently, her tongue recipe is delicious (so says my husband) but I cannot stomach it. You make me want to though!

  7. You are totally amazing! I applaud loudly anyone who tried to conquer a fear (or fears) (I have been doing that for more than a dozen years) and you did it in style! I have had seen tongue raw and I have eaten it, and have decided it is something I dont care for. PS I am reading your list of favorite things, and I am smiling.

  8. Hi Ali great post but I still can't simply just can not bring myself to try tongue!!! also have an issue with chicken feet I remember my father sucking the meat and skin off each chicken toe individually and… well, EWWW!!!

  9. Hi Jamie! Chicken feet, that's pretty gross. I definitely understand why you can't ever try them. Thank G-D we have so many wonderful foods out there that we are willing to try ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. The tongue used to be given only to the Kohanim because of how specially delish it was…but im grossed out by it too:) Brad

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