Mmm... Russian offal.
Mmm... Russian offal.

Ask the Critic: The nasty bits

We're dealing here with the nasty bits: the offal, the often-maligned parts of cows, pigs and other critters that get thrown aside by more easily grossed-out foodies who think that only the best, most pricey parts of animals are worth sinking their teeth into.

Late last week, I heard from from full-bore carnivore Roger, who asked:

Do you know of any directory for markets that sell tongue, sweetbreads, nuts, etc? I am guessing that one or more of the Hispanic markets in the area carry this stuff, but I haven't found a store in Boulder that sells this stuff. Any guidance on places in the north metro area would be great.

BTW: is there a section in the food blogs for this sort of request? Yes, Roger, there is. And this is that section.

First, let me tell you that just about any butcher worth his whites at any market that does its own breakdown will either have this stuff available or be able to lay hands on it for you as a special order. Ask and ye shall receive, my brother.

Also, you are correct in assuming that many of the Mexican (and Asian) markets scattered throughout the city will be even more likely to have tripe, tongues and nuts on hand. Kidneys can be gotten easily; hearts with a bit more trouble. Sweetbreads? Like caul fat, these might be a tougher to find, but I suggest calling the meat counters at places like Tony's, Marczyk's or Oliver's. Butchers are like drug dealers to the truly food-obsessed: guys worth getting beside and staying tight with because, when the need is great, they have connections that the common man simply does not have.

As for your specific question -- i.e., getting this stuff in Boulder -- I'm at a loss. Which is why I am turning once again to the ever-helpful readers and asking for their suggestions. Know of a place in the Republic where a man with Roger's tastes can get his hands on some nuts? Hit that comment button and share the wealth.

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