As a little kid my parents used to take my brother and I for Chinese, where we would happily slurp on chicken feet - to my mom's disgust and my dad's amusement. We've both always been fairly adventurous eaters, and over the years I've found very few things that I just can't stomach (blue cheese, cabbage, and mushrooms on anything other than pizza, basically).
So trying new foods isn't exactly a stretch for me, but there are still specific items that test me enough for me to consider them "new" enough to count for this project. Beef tongue is one of those.
I've heard tales of delicious tongue tacos from Mexican joints in Leamington, but I've just never had the opportunity to give it a go. Sure, I've seen he vacuum-sealed whole tongues on styrofoam trays in the grocery stores, and have considered trying it, but I always worried that I'd cook it wrong and ruin it for myself without ever actually giving it a proper chance.
So when I visited an authentic Mexican restaurant in Detroit and saw a whole bunch of different tongue items on the menu I had to give it a go. Sure, there was a chance it would go poorly and I would embarrass myself by ordering something that made me gag, but you've gotta live a little sometime, right?
I eagerly awaited my tongue quesadillas while sipping on the best margarita I've ever had, and when the waitress dropped off our food I did get a few startled looks from the family members, who seemed concerned that I might have accidentally ordered the wrong thing, with the language difference and all. But i knew exactly what I had done, even if I wasn't exactly sure what I had gotten myself into. It wasn't until now that I began to wonder what prepared tongue would actually look like.
I'm not sure exactly how it was prepared, but it was delivered to me as little cubes of dark brown meat, mixed with gooey cheese, folded in a tortilla. If I looked closely I could see the tongue texture pretty clearly on a few of the pieces. So I stopped looking closely.
The first bite was...interesting. The texture of the meat was a little strange - chewy, a little stringy, and something else that I can't quite describe. The flavour wasn't bad, it had more of a strong, meaty thing going on, with a lot less of the Mexican spices that I'm used to experiencing with chicken and beef quesadillas.
I tried it with guacamole, with sour cream, and with spicy pico. The pico was my favourite addition, but I credit that to the fact that as I've forced myself to get more comfortable with spicy food, I come to require it more and more.
My meal consisted of three small quesadillas, beans, and rice. As I finished my first quesadilla I was becoming more accustomed to the strange flavour and texture, but halfway through the second I'd had enough and tapped out of the main. Still thoroughly enjoyed the beans and rice though!
The next day I tried getting into the leftovers. I tried a bite of cold tongue quesadilla and almost choked. No bueno. So I tried re-heating it in the microwave, because these are leftovers and this is North America. It was also a mistake.
Based just on the smell of that re-heated tongue I should have known to leave it alone. But I was determined. I made it through the half-quesadilla I had left the day before, couldn't handle that the tongue had become even chewier with it's chilling and subsequent reheating, and called it a day.
I'm definitely down to try some tongue again. but in the future would prefer to try it as a taco rather than a quesadilla. I'll also skip any leftovers after this experience.
Maybe not the most appetizing close-up, but it really doesn't look like anything other than cubed steak, right?
So to rate this week's new:
Taqueria Mi Pueblo, Detroit: 10/10 - bomb margaritas, wonderful atmosphere and waitstaff, awesome menu. Move over Mexican Town!
Beef Tongue Quesadillas: 7/10 - not awful, not amazing. Probably an acquired taste that I need to give another go.
Re-Heated Beef Tongue Quesadilla: 1/10 - no no no. Just don't do it. I'll give it a one because the dog was a fan, though.
#YouDoNew - Week 10 - September 25 to October 1
*I'll admit, I did skip two weeks this month. I was working on a film set that had me learning and experiencing all sorts of new things, but left me with zero time to write about it. I can live with this.