Liver has a tendency to be that proverbial line in the culinary sand. Many people can't get over the yuck factor. Others are vehemently against the method of pumping grains and fat downs the throats of geese to obtain oversized livers (foie gras).
However, a growing number of carnivores feel it is simply wrong to pick and choose among the parts of an animal to consume. This includes the liver and other offal. Their belief is, once slaughtered, all parts of the animal should be used. This has long been upheld by Native American communities. In fact, the Lakota use the word wasichu — the one who takes the best part of the animal — to refer to non-Native Americans. Many regions and cultures consume all parts of the animal: Pigs feet are common in the South; oxtail is common in the Caribbean. In 2004, Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating became a "foodie" classic, and beef cheeks, a facial muscle, became the rage on upscale restaurants' menus.
But liver is often perplexing. At one end is the expensive foie gras and the other is Braunschweiger, with Jewish deli chopped chicken liver and diner-styled calves liver somewhere between.
But even those who enjoy liver are cautious to consume livers of highly processed animals, since the liver serves to detoxify. Therefore, free range, organically raised animals are preferred, and fresh, not frozen, livers are best.
At the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, 1801 Yorkmont Road, many vendors sell free-range chicken livers — typically flash frozen. A few vendors sell frozen free-range lamb and goat livers. Most of these vendors are located in the open-air building A, or in the local farmers' section of Building B.
Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-522-8334, extension 136.
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