My mother heaved the 2-pound tongue onto the serving dish and I offered to skin it.
I eat mainly vegetarian food but I skinned that tongue like a pro, feeling elemental and respectful like a hunter.
My mother foraged for it in Waitrose. The label bore two marks: UK and EU.
My mother went to the customer service desk to check its provenance.
“Cured in Bedford,” said the assistant, “so it must be British.”
“But where did the animal come from?” said my mother.
He checked with the buyer who sent word the animal was UK-bred.
“So why the EU label? It’s still a mystery,” said Ingrid Rose when my mother told us the story as we ate.
My mother said she used to pickle tongue with saltpetre. Now it’s hard to find.
My mother’s tongue – a childhood memory.
My mother talked about the cooking of the 2lb tongue (for £8, 8 servings).
She disagreed with the label’s instructions: to throw away the water after bringing the tongue to the boil seemed a terrible waste, she said.
She and Evelyn Rose are of one mind: wash the tongue well in cold water – there is no need for waste.
Cooking salted/pickled/cured tongue: water to cover + garlic + 1 onion skinned and cut in half + peppercorns + bay leaves. Simmer and cover for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Then drain and skin.
The potato pie: mashed potatoes + 1 tablespoon of goose fat (“My mother used chicken fat,” says my mother) + 2 eggs + salt and pepper plus my mother’s latest addition: chives.
Back to the meat.
What do you want to preserve?