CHEEK TO CHEEK
Odes have been written about rosy-red cheeks, and while
there may be some debate, there is no part of the human face
that receives more total kisses than the cheeks. (Ovid, et.
al., European Journal of Tact & Diplomacy, 2/14/97).
In any event, today's issue of the New York Times Magazine
section (2/3/02) contains a gourmet food column containing
instructions on how to cook and serve cow cheeks.
The author, Jonathan Reynolds, writes:
"Cheeks are tough, fatty, gelatinous chewing muscles that
require lengthy cooking."
Well, that makes sense to me. After all, cow's do two things
to exercises those cheeks that insure their toughness. They
chew cud, and moo each time cold fingers grab their udders
or slaughterhouse workers apply the tools of their trade.
Well, you get the idea.
No butcher has devised a substitute name for cheeks as they
have done for other body parts. Cheeks are just called
Go to fine French restaurants and eat pancreas and thymus.
You're eating sweetbreads.
Eat another creature's stomach, and dine on tripe. The
entire nomenclature is tripe.
When I was a student at the Culinary Institue of America in
Hyde Park, New York, I learned to identify body parts by
their newly given English and French names. Speak French and
all things sound delicious.
Dine on the sliced flesh from an innocent baby cow's
foreleg, and you've eaten "veal." Eat a pig's tummy, and
you've eaten bacon. Her posterior (tooshie, ass, butt) is
called ham. Eat the cow's shoulder and you chew on chuck.
The fleshy cut of meat anterior to her genitals is called
Does it sound disgusting? The author writes:
"Richly satisfying as beef and veal cheeks are, I could eat
the pork version all night."
Oh, if great white sharks could talk. Is there anything as
wonderful as human cheek? Do sharks prefer orators or mutes?
They eat dogs in Korea, and cats in Southeast Asia. With a
bit of Bordelaise sauce, what gourmand among us could tell
Baby male cows and mother cows all share the same fate. Chew
on that as you read today's New York Times recipe for
The author concludes:
"As for aesthetics, you'll have to get over your
squeamishness about difficult body parts like tongue and
brain and pancreases: after all, once the animal has given
himself-herself up for your delectation, it's not really
fair to him-her – racist really-to embrace the rib-eye but
shun the nasty parts."
Perhaps Jonathan Reynolds can visit a slaughterhouse and see
how readily these gentle cows give themselves up for human
euphoria. I neither wish to dine on cheeks nor filet mignon.
I will never again eat their faces.
Death, pain, and torture, by any other name, cannot sanitize
the great injustice we do to animals. Do not invite me to a
dinner party where cheeks are served. I vow not to hold my
Note: The author reveals that cheeks are available at
Frank's Butcher Shop in Manhattan, 212-685-3451. Frank
should enjoy the publicity.
One last dish, taken from my copy of the great French
cookbook, Larousse Gastronomique. Please pass the Animelles
a la crème. For those of you who lack the skill to
understand culinary French, that's testicles in cream sauce
(page 665). I am profoundly disappointed in those people who
cut them, clean them, cook them, consume them, and cater to
the human whims that create an appetite for sperm-producing
organs. (Forgive me. I wrote that tongue in cheek!)