Offal: What would you eat?

May 03, 2012, 4:34 PM GMT+0

Majority of Britons would try liver and kidneys, while 1 in 10 would sample brains and testicles

When considering different kinds of offal (i.e. not the main cuts of meat, for example, internal organs) they would eat if it was served in a restaurant, the majority of Britons say they would be willing to try dishes such as liver and kidneys, and around half would eat blood (i.e. black pudding).

Related story: Offal and Game - Your Recipes

And while the above cuts are arguably fairly mainstream already, our poll also shows that one in ten people say they would try brain or testicles ‒ although only one in twenty would eat eyes.

  • The majority of Britons would eat liver (60%) and kidneys (53%)
  • Around half of Britons (49%) would eat blood (black pudding, for example)
  • Just fewer than two in five would eat tongue (37%)
  • Around a quarter of respondents (25%) would eat bone marrow
  • Just under one fifth would eat tripe (stomach lining) with 18%
  • 14% would eat 'chitterlings' (intestines)
  • Around one in ten would eat brain (12%) and testicles (9%)
  • While just less than one in twenty Britons (4%) would eat eyes

What they're having…

For items such as liver, kidneys, blood and tongue, older generations seem slightly more adventurous with their eating habits than the younger ones, with 77% of people aged over 60 saying they would eat liver next to only 41% of 18 to 24 year olds.

The age groups all feel fairly similar about bone marrow, tripe and chitterlings. However, a surprising 9% of 18-24 year olds would eat eyes, next to only 2% of people over 60.

Results also show that, consistently, more men would be willing to try various kinds of offal than women, in particular blood or black pudding, with 61% of men saying they would eat it, next to 38% of women.

Offally local delicacies

With foods such as French pâté, or British favourite steak and kidney pie, being readily available in many places, it shouldn’t be too surprising that liver and kidneys were among the most commonly accepted forms of offal welcomed by the British public.

And while it can invite squeamishness nowadays, eating more unusual cuts of offal hasn't always been such a controversial thing to do: recipes involving offal cuts from years gone by, which may seem odd to us today, can be found across Britain and elsewhere.

The now largely-reviled tripe was once a common, cheap cut in Britain, while that most famous of Scottish delicacies, haggis, is made from sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), and minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, salt and stock, before being traditionally encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for three hours.

Further afield, criadillas, or bull’s testicles, are a well-known if slightly unusual dish on certain restaurant menus in Spain; it is not unheard of to find whole sheep heads recommended for public consumption in parts of the Mediterranean and Northern Africa; and jellied moose nose is allegedly an old recipe from snowy American state Alaska.

See the survey details and full results here

Related story: Offal and Game - Your Recipes