Foodie Tuesday: Head Cheese

In a phrase, it's meat jello.  Mmm, right?

As evidenced by the photo above, head cheese is not a cheese at all, but rather a cold cut made of all the parts of an animal (cow, pig) that you don't normally want to eat, suspended in aspic (or jelly, traditionally made by boiling the head of an animal, brains/eyes removed, to produce a stock that would contain natural gelatin from the skull), and sliced.  A peasant food, no doubt. It might also include feet, tongue, and heart, and is usually flavored with onion, peppercorns, allspice, bay leaf, salt and vinegar.

I first encountered head cheese at Safeway of all places, right there next to the braunschweiger and salami.  I was horrified, and I'm not only relatively fearless meat eater, but also Chinese.  And you know what they say about Chinese - we'll eat anything on four legs that isn't a table, and anything on two legs that isn't a plane.  But this head cheese was really something else.  And with a name like 'head cheese,' which sounds like a euphemism for 'brains,' it didn't exactly encourage me to try it.

Then I realized that I have probably already eaten a variation on head cheese, in the form of cold cuts in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.  Along with "pork roll," which is also pretty much all the parts of the animal you don't normally want to eat, ground up and pressed into cold cut format.  And then I thought, well, how is head cheese any more disgusting than, say, a hot dog or a chicken nugget?  Just because you can actually still see what the meat product is made of since it hasn't been processed beyond all recognition?

The answer, of course, is that head cheese is NOT more disgusting.  In fact, it is less processed and thus 'safer' in that you sort of know what's going into it.  As opposed to the hot dog or chicken nugget, which contains heaven-knows-what including bones, beaks, eyeballs, membranes of all sorts.  Blech.  I think i just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

11 responses
Head cheese might be "safer" than hot dogs, but a large percentage of whether you'll like the food or not is based on what it looks like (and then smell, and finally taste). A grilled hot dog is vastly more appealing looking than head cheese, even if it has icky parts blended in -- probably why people knowingly eat a hot dog over some head cheese :P
@Redwan you're right of course.  Head cheese really looks unappealing!
Have you tried some head cheese before?
I tried Vietnamese "head cheese" but not the western version....
ohhh. Yeah, I don't like this cheese. I travel to Asia, all over Asia, all the time (well for months out of the year 5 or 6 times) but I would rather just eat the grilled whole sparrow than have it floating in jello? And even dog is just not too bad served the right way. But the gelatin quality just kinda eeeks me. Cool post though!
@Joe Grilled sparrow? Dog? Seriously dude?
I am terrified
LOL izzy i thought you liked meat!
it looks really really nasty, it may taste good, but it looks awful.

Viagra Online

I don't know. It doesn't look so tasty but I bet that I am wrong. I think that those pieces between look weird. but xl pharmacy always said if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger.
1 visitor upvoted this post.