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Head cheese


At Thanksgiving, my father and I got to talking about the sublime pleasure of head cheese. Head cheese is something approaching a euphemism, because it is not really cheese, but it is indeed head. Basically, it is a terrine of the brains of a calf or pig. It doesn’t necessarily need to be exclusively the brain, but my father suggested that is what “makes it taste so good.” Being the aficionado of all foods fairly disgusting, with me coming in a close second, I am inclined to believe him.

The adventurous among you might not think any of these are that disgusting, but ask yourself why these are kept in the far corner of any self-respecting supermarket, except the really good ethnic ones.

Pickled herring
Head cheese
Braunschweiger (liver pate)
Pig’s feet
Chicken hearts
Giblets (as mentioned in my previous post)

As I mentioned, head cheese is a terrine, which makes it sound more appealing since it is French. I am in love with the Wikipedia entry for head cheese, which states:

Head cheese or brawn is in fact not a cheese, but rather a terrine of meat from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) that would not otherwise be considered appealing.

I am not sure it is that appealing even after it is prepared into a terrine, guy.

All the same, the use of the head as a food source is not unheard of in some cultures. However, any of us who grew up in the last twenty to thirty years are perhaps spurred to imaginative responses to these types of foods by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and the infamous “chilled monkey brains!”

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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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