Cooking with Liver

Liver. As an ingredient, I should be very familiar with it. After all, who hasn’t eaten pâté?Reno spread? German cooking? Filipino cooking. Liver, liver, liver, they have that in common.

There is a saying that disgust is cultural. If a person grew up eating rotting dried fish, he’s gonna automatically start salivating at the mere sight of it. But liver is one of those things I never really warmed up to.

As a kid, I ate everything. Balut, Betamax, Chicken feet…you name it. But as I reached the age of five I began to realize what these things really are. A duck’s egg a day before hatching. Coagulated blood cake. Liver.

menudoGrowing up, I avoided eating liver. But then I was invited to a potluck Filipino party, I had promised to cook Menudo. No, not the ’80s boy band. It’s a Philippine stew, with liver and pork belly cubes (I prefer minced pork, however). I normally omit the liver when I cook Menudo for home, but an authentic dish can’t really be  without it. So for the first time in my life, I am handling liver as an ingredient.

Handling liver felt so alien. It was slick, slippery, and lightweight. It was billowy to the touch, but surprisingly tough to cut. I needed a seriously sharp knife, it was that dense. My hands smelled like liver for hours.

Was it yucky? In the beginning, yes, but I got used to it. Would I start eating liver again? In bits and pieces, why not? As a daily dish, not really.

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