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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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tongue possessed by most vertebrate animals, a fleshy muscular movable organ of the floor of the mouth which bears sensory taste buds and has special functions in tasting and swallowing food.

Tongues from the larger animals have ‘roots’ which are normally trimmed off, with other unwanted matter, before sale; and they have thick skins, which can be removed easily after parboiling. They may also be smoked, for example beef tongues in the Jura region of France.

Tongues in general need prolonged moist cooking, which often takes the form of braising, to make them tender, and may be eaten either hot or cold. Ox tongues, especially, are often brined or salted before cooking. In Britain cooked ox tongues, canned, are a popular item for eating cold with salad or in sandwiches. In France, hot cooked tongue is more commonly met, and characteristic dishes are: Langue de veau, sauce piquante (calf’s tongue is considered the best); and Langue de bœuf à l’aigre-douce (or sauce Madère). Langues à l’écarlate are tongues salted, trimmed, enclosed in a sort of sausage casing, cooked, coloured red, and used as an item of charcuterie. In the context of French cuisine, it is no doubt unnecessary to explain that langues de chat are not what they might seem, but biscuits (see biscuit varieties); but some explanation is needed for the antique title Langue d’ésope; this dish consists of sheep’s tongues rearing up around a pyramid of chestnut purée, with whole chestnuts on top, and is mentioned here because chestnuts are generally regarded as one of the ingredients which go well with tongue.