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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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head a part of animals which provides a range of foodstuffs which vary considerably in the uses to which they are put and the ways in which they are prepared. There is a great difference between delicate brains, for example, and strong cheek muscles. Individual parts of heads are treated under brains, cheeks (including bath chap), ears, muzzle (snout), palate (with lips and noses/muzzles), tongue. This article deals with whole heads, but see also brawn, as well as cod.

Symbolically, heads, carrying much of an animal’s identity, may represent more than simply meat, and have some deeper, cultural significance. Despite a sharp decline in the use of whole, undisguised heads on British tables, a few symbolic dishes survive. A pig’s head, cooked and suitably adorned, can be a centrepiece ‘boar’s head’ for a feast (although if this is intended to be purely ornamental, it may just be a raw head under a decorative aspic glaze piped with lard curlicues).