3 questions for...Fergus Henderson
British chef, author, offal advocate
Thu Oct 18 2007
1 Both of your books champion “nose-to-tail eating.” What is the essence of that?
It’s being polite to the animal, once you’ve knocked it on the head, by using and eating all of it. Not just for thrift, but because it’s all delicious. This is a very straightforward theory to me.
2 The “omnivorous” recipes in your latest work feature all kinds of offal and oddities. Are there any parts of an animal that have made you think, No, this really is inedible?
Not many. I’m not crazy about lung—though we use it in faggots [traditional British meatballs], which works very well. And I suppose a pig’s penis doesn’t really grab me. But the ingredients we use, we use because they’re yummy. Nothing is in the book for shock factor. I don’t search out weird organs for the thrill of it. Everything has to be delicious.
3 You describe pig’s head as the perfect romantic meal for two. How so?
It’s lovely to have a little golden head on the table, smiling between you and your loved one. Instead of thinking of a pig’s head as “urgh,” I think of it as an extraordinary thing. The nostril is just this fantastic meeting point between fat and flesh. Interestingly, at my restaurant St. John [in London], the people asking for pig’s head are usually American. I have great faith in Americans, they’re good eaters. They enjoy sharing a pig’s head.
Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omnivorous Recipes for the Adventurous Cook by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly is out now (Bloomsbury, $35).