Why you’ll find brains, tongue, and other organs at Swiss restaurants and stores

If they wanted to, the Swiss could afford to eat only the best cuts of meat. But a lot of them make a conscious decision not to. Here’s why.

Switzerland is an exceedingly rich country. According to the 2016 Global Wealth Report, Swiss adults accounted for just 0.1% of the world’s population – but that tiny group of people owned 1.4% of the global wealth.

Beef Tongue
Beef Tongue Beef Tongue,
SOURCE: Tamara Marie Johnson
In Switzerland, you can find organ products like beef tongue, chicken hearts, and pig’s blood at most grocery stores.

Nose to tail eating at restaurants

In a country where people have that much money, it might surprise you that restaurants offer anything but the best cuts of meat. However, many Swiss chefs believe in nose to tail eating, i.e. using the entire animal – organs, bones, and all.

Some of the best-known Swiss restaurants that try to use as much of the animal as possible are:

At these restaurants, you will find things on the menu like calf’s brains with lemon vinaigrette or beef tongue with caper sauce. If you’re thinking ‘gross,’ consider this: it’s grosser to cut off all the ‘good’ bits and let the rest go to waste. Think of the millions of people on this earth who would gladly eat the not-so-fancy parts of a pig, cow, or goat.

Chicken Hearts
Chicken Hearts Chicken Hearts
SOURCE: Tamara Marie Johnson
CAPTION: In Switzerland, you can find organ products like beef tongue, chicken hearts, and pig’s blood at most grocery stores.

Nose to tail eating at home

In Switzerland, nose to tail eating is popular outside of haute cuisine, too. Many Swiss families regularly eat organ meat, e.g. tongue and heart, and use blood to make sauces, especially for game dishes.

Pig's blood
Pig's blood Pig’s blood
SOURCE: Tamara Marie Johnson
In Switzerland, you can find organ products like beef tongue, chicken hearts, and pig’s blood at most grocery stores.

Whole animals and so-called ‘inferior’ parts of animals are common, too.

Isn’t organ meat bad for you?

The short answer is: no. Healthy adults can eat organ meat without worrying about it affecting them negatively. In fact, hearts are pure muscle, i.e. meat without any fat. And liver contains a lot of iron and folic acid.

Entire Rabbit
Entire Rabbit Entire Rabbit
SOURCE: Tamara Marie Johnson
Buying and eating the entire bunny or ‘inferior’ meats like calf’s feet prevents food waste.

That said, organ meat isn’t for everyone: pregnant women, for instance, should avoid liver because the high vitamin A content could harm the fetus. And people suffering from arthritis or gout should steer clear of innards which contain high levels of purines and arachidonic acid.

Entire Rabbit
Entire Rabbit Entire Rabbit
Tamara Marie Johnson
Buying and eating the entire bunny or ‘inferior’ meats like calf’s feet prevents food waste.

All or nothing

Personally, as a privileged person living in a first-world country, I don’t believe in eating any meat at all. However, nothing annoys me more than meat eaters judging other meat eaters for eating parts of animals (like tongue) or types of animals (like horses) they consider ‘too gross to eat,’ ‘too cute to eat,’ or in some other way unsuitable for consumption.

Calf's feet
Calf's feet Calf’s feet
SOURCE: Tamara Marie Johnson
Buying and eating the entire bunny or ‘inferior’ meats like calf’s feet prevents food waste.

Nose to tail eating is the single most respectful way to eat meat. Nothing goes to waste. And, at least in Switzerland, you needn’t even buy an entire animal to practice nose to tail eating: simply ask a local butcher for any parts you’d like. Ears, udders, bones, blood, you name it – they’ve got it.

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