From Haggis to Headcheese — The Fall and Rise of Odd Bits

Presented by
Chef/Author Jennifer McLagan

Podcast courtesy of WBEZ’s Chicago Amplified

Odd bits, offal, or variety meats, whatever you call them they have had a chequered history. Prized by early man, enjoyed at Roman banquets, feted by the Elizabethans, and viewed today, in most of the English-speaking world as not worth cooking or worse still, too disgusting to eat. Why did they fall from pride of place on our table into Fido’s bowl?

Those who champion these varied and delicious morsels hope that their renaissance is underway. Economic, social and political forces that once worked against odd bits are now helping to promote them. Is the tide really changing or is it just another tiresome trend? Will it be tattooed chefs or parsimonious habits that will be odd bits saviours?

Jennifer will discuss the past, present and future of odd bits while explaining headcheese, Alice in Wonderland’s mock turtle, and the true lineage of haggis.

Jennifer McLagan is a chef and writer who has worked in Toronto, London, and Paris as well as in her native Australia. Her previous books, Bones (2005) and Fat (2008), were both widely acclaimed, and each won Beard and IACP awards. Fat won the James Beard Cookbook of the Year. Jennifer is a regular contributor to Fine Cooking and Food & Drink. She has lived in Toronto for more than thirty years with her sculptor husband, Haralds Gaikis, with whom she escapes to Paris as often as possible. On both sides of the Atlantic, Jennifer maintains friendly relations with her butchers, who put aside their best fat, bones, and odd bits for her.

Program hosted at Kendall College.

These are references to quotes from Jennifer’s talk:

Carroll, Lewis. The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1949.

Glasse, Hannah. Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (By a Lady. London: 1747.

Hartley, Dorothy. Food in England. London: Little, Brown, 2003.

Leipoldt, C. Louis. Leipoldt’s Cape Cookery. Cape Town: W. J. Flesch, 1989.

Luard, Elizabeth. The Old World Kitchen: The Rich Tradition of European Peasant Cooking. New York, Bantam, 1987

McNeil, F. Marian. The Scots Kitchen. Edinburgh: Mercat Press, 2004. This book contains my Meg Dods references but her book is online

link to Meg Dods Cook and Housewife’s Manual

Markham, Gervase. The English Huswife. 1615

May, Robert. The Accomplisht Cook. 1660×1696.jpg