Have Another Offal Day: reinvigorating Sacramento’s spirit of “foodventure”
Now that July is swiftly coming to a close, the second annual event celebrating offal is only a week away: Have Another Offal Day. But what is offal anyway? Some hip new way of spelling awful? Thankfully no—instead offal, according to Oxford English Dictionary, can be taken to mean “the entrails and internal organs of an animal,” “waste material,” or “decomposing animal flesh,” none of which sound particularly appetizing in the context of fine dining.
But in having skilled local chefs demonstrate how to cook a savory cow stomach or a luscious chicken liver, organs that would otherwise be thrown out as “waste material,” there is a greater message at hand; a call to adventure, or “foodventure,” as it were.
Professional chef and founder of the event Catherine Enfield criticized the manner in which meat products are so often distributed: “I feel that modern society has gotten too far away from many foods that we lived off of for millennia. Just as we have become a corn-centric nation, we’ve also become lazy and wasteful by only eating the muscle meats of animals.”
Think about the meats you see every time you make a trip to your local supermarket—a chicken breast here, a flank steak there, but no ears or hooves or tongues as you might see in a Mexican neighborhood’s carnicería. Offal simply doesn’t have a demand in American culture and thus it doesn’t have a place in our stores either. Yet that’s changing, according to Enfield.
“People are more mindful of sustainability and waste so that they are going back to opening butcher shops around the country and learning how to butcher small animals for themselves at home,” she said.
On the event website, one of last year’s attendees named Shahera raved about the dishes’ element of mystery: “It allowed me to focus on the flavors and make guesses for myself before learning which parts of the animal we were eating.”
For herself, Enfield admits that she is not a big fan of offal—she only utilizes pig skin for her homemade chicharrón—but dishes from the event have more often than not left her pleasantly surprised.
“Last year there was only one out of the twelve items I did not care for. This is also why we do not tell you what the dish is until everyone has tasted the item. This way there are no preconceived notions and everyone can taste the item with an open mind,” she explained.
On the roster of dishes for this year are some familiar favorites along with some new ones, namely haggis (a Scottish delicacy made from various digestive organs) and balut (a Filipino delicacy made from embryonic duck egg).
Enfield mused on the balut: “Many people know about it from shows like Survivor and Fear Factor, but when else would they ever get a chance to try it?”
All this about intestines and brains and tongues does beg the question: “Is offal aptly named, just awful?” Well, as the saying goes, “never bang it ‘til you try it.” The proceeds will go toward Food Literacy Center’s outreach education programs so even if offal isn’t for you, your participation will promote food sustainability.
The event is located at Mulvaney’s Next Door on the corner of 19th and L, a relatively sizable venue, but it has sold out multiple years in a row, and more than likely will again this year, so sign up soon if you want to brave this year’s Offal Day with us!
For tickets and more information about this event, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/e/have-another-offal-day-tickets-11652842967?aff=efbevent.
Written by Thom Stone, Food Literacy Intern