Bovine Anatomy Lesson

May 05, 2010 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Spain 1,752 views

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Sleepy CowThis morning during my daily visit to the grocery store, my friend, neighbor and butcher, Bruno, had something to show me. Normally he doesn’t get whole calves to sell, but today he did. When I was there, he was in the process of carving out the kidneys, heart, and other parts (it was a male calf). If you don’t want to see the insides of dead things or my local butcher, look away now.

Bruno and a Cow Head
Bruno and his bovine head.

Then he goes in the back and pulls out what you’re about to see and says, “How about these? Do you know what these are?”

Bruno y sus cojones
He said, “Show these to your American friends so they know I have cojones!”

Cow Testicles
Peeled cow testicles. Didn’t think you’d be reading those words today, did you? Bruno’s brother, my friend Andrés, assures me that fried cow testicles, if tasted under a veil of ignorance, are actually quite delicious.

Carving off cow cheeks
Carving off the cheek. Beef cheeks are a delicacy in Spain.

Carving off cow cheeks
Cheek removed.

Hatcheting a cow skull
Cracking open the skull with a hatchet. When it comes time for my lobotomy, remind me not to have Bruno do it.

Cow Brain
Brain exposed. Getting hungry yet?

Cow Brain
A brain in hand is worth… No, nevermind. Cows have a pretty small encephalization quotient.

Cow Brain

If you’re still hungry after all this, perhaps I could interest you in a cow tongue recipe.

 
  • Hilltop

    As an average meat consumer, I feel I’m certainly missing something being so far removed from the source of the meat. (That’s a good set up for anyone interested). Seriously, how does the butcher feel about eating meat? More respect for the animal? More appreciation for it? Less? Did you ask him? I’d be curious to know.

    • In England, I knew dozens of people who worked 40+ hours a week in slaughterhouses. There wasn’t a single vegetarian among them. However most of them were Spanish, and there are very, very few Spanish vegetarians. I think rate of vegetarianism is probably lower in the meat industry than in other industries, kind of like how there aren’t many environmentalists working in the oil industry.

      I don’t actually understand your question. What does “respect/appreciation for the animal” mean? Being anti-torture? Being anti-consumption? The answers to those are obviously yes and no, respectively.

      • Hilltop

        I guess being more thankful for having the meat they consume, being less wasteful with the product, perhaps enjoying it more. I buy meat out of the case and its already packaged and ready to go. If I have to throw some of it away because I didn’t get around to eating it, no biggie (except that I’m cheap). These guys are around the animals perhaps from birth till the slaughterhouse and then carve the animal up – just curious how that affects their perspective.

        I know from growing some of my own vegetables/fruits/herbs, I tend to think they taste better and I hate to waste them because I spent that time growing them. (Now whether I could blind taste test them and pick them out, I don’t know.)

  • I remember a market in Salamanca that amazed me – cow snouts folded in a row, beside the neatly arranged tongues – it made me happy they use every bit of the animal. Similar feeling with this post. I’d much rather support a society that uses every part, rather than our selective mindset that chooses only the bits we feel are ‘edible’. (Could segue into an argument about why we drink cow’s milk rather than goat’s milk, or why we have animal milk in our diets at all. It’s not natural, but we consider it so.)

    Though I am a lefty pescatarian, if it’s any consolation. (Sorry Franco.)