Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

June 11, 2010
Irene Saiger



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.



17 thoughts on “Tongue

  1. I LOVE it! 😉 The first time my then futher mother in law served it, I totally refused to eat it. She later served it cut into chunks and fried with potatoes, (without telling me waht it was ) oh my! I was hooked. It was some of the best food I’d ever eaten!! That was over 40 years ago and I now serve it to our son and his sons. They all love it, especially the 10 year old. And yes, he does know what it is. We also serve it cubed and in enchilada sauce, so good. Thanks for sharing !!

    • Hi Liz,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I just got back from a trip back East. I agree that tongue is an amazing meat. One of my closest friends grew up in Mexico City but also from European origins. She makes the best tongue tacos!!! Delish.

      Thanks for commenting!!!


  2. Hi Irene
    One year visiting in Toronto
    My sister made tongue for a family dinner – my daughter Lisa about 5 or 6 at the time(Lori’s little sister) ate it with relish and asked “what is this meat” “tongue” answered Auntie Ida – “WHOSE TONGUE” she asked needless to say – Lisa never ate tongue again.

    • Hi Mollie,

      Such a cute story. Thanks for sharing. Lori had the same reaction. Too bad. I think you should try making it for them and see how they react this time around.


  3. Dear Irene,

    Life was so different then. We felt safe and never wanted for anything. We thought we had everything and more. Looking back, we did. Mommy worked hard to make us happy. She cooked one meal for herself and daddy, another for me and another for you. We were very spoiled.

    Mommy loved tongue and I do too. It was delicious when she made it. I am sure you make it just as well as she did and that your children appreciate what a wonderful cook their mother is.


  4. HI Irene,
    Loved, loved loved, the fisrt paragraph about growing up on the Grand Concourse in the 50’s . My most-est favor-tist thing about your blog is hearing how your recipes connect with your life experiences especially your stories from growing up.

    Be that as it may, and I meant every word, I am extemely sorry to report I could not read the rest of the blog….. at all…somehow, most unfortunately, caught the “mushy brains” comment and that was it for me for the day…..
    I remain your loyal reader and fan when it does not involve organ parts,
    Queasy stomached barbie

  5. Blech on both, Irene – the photo and the tongue. The look, the texture…. oh, I feel sick just thinking about it. Blech. I will come over, but I will only eat corned beef. No tongue. No way. Blech.

  6. Blech. That’s all I have to say.

  7. Dear Irene;

    Tongue is a favorite of mine and my brother’s. Growing up in the deli business it was always plentiful and available. Now, it is not so easy to find good tongue. Seeing your recipe makes me want to give it a try because it is so simple. Thanks.

    PS. We like to eat it warm orn rye bread with mustard.

  8. ohmigosh — I LOVE tongue — and I never get to have it because my husband and my daughters find it revolting, along with my predilection for chicken feet.
    Tell me the next time you make it so I can come and scratch at your screen door and whine pitifully until you give me some!
    And Shabbat Shalom!

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