When life feels stressful we often think about simpler times. I think about growing up in the 1950s and although, admittedly, I was very young, my impression was that life was uncomplicated, relaxed, and good. I am sure that my parents had worries and struggles but they and my older sister protected and sheltered me, and I am grateful to be left with memories that are positive and rose-colored. I had the freedom and luxury to be a kid. My friends and I ran around the Grand Concourse after school and nobody seemed to worry about where we were or who we were with. Both adults and children had a sense of security and a basic belief that all was well with our world.
Even food was less complicated. Daily, my mother would go to the market, pulling her shopping cart behind her, and return home with the ingredients she needed for that night’s dinner. Every afternoon she would prepare either one entrée or two, depending on what she was serving. As the “baby” and a fussy eater, there were certain things I would not eat, so my mother would make a separate entrée for me. For example, my family loved organ meats. I don’t know if that was a function of economy, or of having lived in Paris for five years, but my mother would often prepare brains, liver, sweet breads, pancreas and tongue. Brains were mushy, a consistency that I still dislike, liver was liver, pancreas had the texture of a sponge, but tongue… that was delicious. I loved everything about its’ delicate flavor and soft creamy texture. I remember watching the tongue come out of the pot, this enormous version of the one in my mouth. How could I not be impressed! Tongue makes a statement. My job was to peel the tough outer layer off the tongue. I still love doing that!!
Tongue is readily available and you can buy veal or beef tongue. It is simple to prepare and great on a thin slice of rye bread with mustard.
Here is to simple times!
3 -4 lb. Tongue
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. coarse salt
Place tongue in pot with cold water to cover. Bring water to a boil and cook for thirty minutes. Discard water and start again. Add fresh water to cover tongue and add bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook till tongue is tender. About 2 hours. Test tongue with a fork for tenderness.
Remove tongue from pot and when it is cool enough to handle, peel tough outer skin. Cool and refrigerate.