NPR: The Truth About Ugly Foods: They're Delicious, Abundant And Good For The Planet


Ugly Food is a love letter to the dishes Horsey, an international political analyst based in Myanmar, and Wharton, a musician-turned-academic at the University of Brighton in southern England, have encountered in their quest to delve “beyond the [chicken] breast.” But the recipes it serves up — Maldivian curried octopus, boiled sheep’s head from Scandinavia, rabbit stifado from Greece, French giblet pie and, of their own devising, ice-filtered squirrel consommé among other delicacies — throw into sharp relief a mainstream Anglo-American food culture fixated on the sanitized presentation of flawless specimens of a few favored foods. Besides being a cookbook, Ugly Food is equal parts culinary “manifesto,” earthy polemic and disquisition into why we embrace some ingredients but balk at others no less nourishing and delicious and often considerably cheaper.

In perhaps the most celebrated English-language novel of the 20th century, set in Dublin on June 16, 1904, James Joyce introduces Ulysses’ everyman lead character with a description of his culinary habits:

“Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencod’s roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.”

I love cooking . Most of my food is ugly brown and so tasty .

Dad, being a farm boy, longed for his mother’s head cheese and couldn’t fathom why my mother refused to make it for him. Liver and onions used to be a staple of American dining, where I’d that go?

But seriously, I thought that the goal was to wean humans off of ‘higher order’ proteins and onto vegetarian and insectarian (word?) foodways. Have any HO’s experience cooking/eating insects? I dread the day, I’m just too old, I think.

Given the character of the local squirrel population, I would expect squirrel consommé to impart to my palate the metallic chill of contempt.

I guess it’s cool that they finally figured out what most all of us here have known for decades. But I have to say that once EVERYBODY starts eating offal and liver and chicken backs and necks - it stops being cheap. Remember when oxtail was cheap? and when the butcher would give you soup bones for free?


True. Local WF charges $5 - $6/lb for bones. I was pretty surprised.

We don’t eat those animal parts because we don’t have to. Same with insects. Famine
and subsistence agriculture force people to eat things like dried crickets and pig intestines. It doesn’t mean they like them.

Oh, you are preaching to the choir. As each “cut” has become “discovered”, it becomes harder and harder to afford. Oxtail, chicken thighs, chicken wings, chicken feet, pig’s head, bones, flank steak, the list goes on and on. Once you hear a cut mentioned by more than two celebrity chefs you know it will be off-budget within months.