1. When we were young, my mother would serve boiled tongue several times a year, a big old globby hunk of pinkish grey meat, boiling for hours, smelling like dead worms.

2. Since my mother didn't drive until after I got my driver's license and taught her on a stick shift VW Beetle, my father bought the groceries, including the beef tongue, yet to be boiled.

3. In hindsight, I can only assume he chose beef tongue because it was cheap and we were poor. I vaguely remember liver with bacon and fish sticks, both of which my mother would overcook. Mostly, I remember the boiled tongue, which was bought at just a long enough interval that as little kids, we would forget about it until the next time.

4. Despite my father being brilliant at mathematics and chess, he wasn't great at knowing too much about children and what they liked to eat, boiled tongue not high on the list. We would have been happy with Velveeta cheese and Spaghettios or cereal.

5. Fifty-plus years later, I can still vividly see the boiled tongue, which sort of bobbed up and down in the pot, uncovered. As a kid, I thought the least she could do was hide it with a lid. My mother might have added celery, carrots, and potatoes, but that only made it worse.

6. My mother would start cooking the boiled tongue before we all got home from school, so as soon as we walked in the door, we knew, changed into play clothes to have a game of kickball or war or go tromping through the woods.

7. I was often a lone adventurer, with an imaginary friend or two, (on rare occasions, my older brother) hunting and gathering, building forts and digging up clay, doing anything to keep my mind off the impending dinner of boiled tongue.

8. It didn't matter what season it was, on Boiled Tongue Night, I'd stay out as long as possible, trying to delay the inevitable...until my Mom rang the triangle, or if God-help-me, I failed to hear that, my Dad's loud whistle.

9. Our town also had a five o'clock firehouse short alarm, which was usually the precursor to Mom on the triangle. I took my 8 to 14 year old chances, waiting til Dad's two finger whistle on Boiled Tongue Nights. What could he do? Make me eat the stuff?

10. The answer to what my father could do was frightening. Dinner consisted of blaring classical music after the rote blessing, said at rapid speed by my father without feeling, followed by a sign of the cross. We were expected to eat everything put on our plates. Boiled tongue, boiled potatoes, canned peas, jello without whipped cream. No talking or laughing.

11. Since there was always leftover boiled tongue, my father would make our lunches for school: two pieces of Wonder Bread, cold boiled tongue, with ketchup that bled through the white bread, wrapped in aluminum foil, not even cut in half. On the brink of mercy, he would add a package of Twinkies.

Having secured your tongue of choice by way of purchase, gift or the slaughterhouse, and being confident that the same is fresh (for freshness in tongues is an important priority), proceed to wash said tongue in completely cold water, using your hands directly for preference rather than by way of gloves or other tools.

If you should consider the prospect of this contact too personally perverse, it would be acceptable to have a third-party wash your tongue for you, however, and in honest consideration of the fact that at cooking's end you'll likely be eating the object at issue, please reconsider your overall suitability to the task.

Eating tongue can conjure strange reactions in people, as can eyeballs, oxtails, the pancreas (sweetbread), testicles, and even the trotters and snouts of pigs, and it is my experience that these feelings are best examined and challenged head-on, for as with many other modalities of mental health, identity first begins within the self.

I have enjoyed tongue since first eating it at my grandmother's table, although back then I presumed that the tongue of which she talked was not the same kind of tongue she used for talking of it with (or kissing or poking or tasting the pot), and it must be said that I was never disabused by the elders for this error in my understanding.

Returning to the present and presuming all areas of ambivalence have been allayed, and with a thoroughly washed tongue now to hand, place the same into a quantity of water that has already been brought to a liberal boil and allow this boiling to continue for ten minutes, then reduce the heat and let it simmer gently until the tongue's tender.

Beef or sheep's tongue may require four to five hours, whereas a lamb's smaller tongue, being more tender from the outset, requires only three to four hours to find perfection, but when making corned tongue, you must soak the same in clean cold water over a whole night to achieve a degree of engorgement (one supposes) as required by the recipe.

Come morning put your tongue in a kettle of cold water and bring it to the boiling point, then allow it to do so for five minutes, remove the accumulated scum and simmer until tender, from three to five hours, cool just slightly in the water and then remove the skin and trim off the roots, both unpleasant jobs at best, but in the dish's service.

The beautifully varied recipes that have come down to us from all cultures have always contained wonders of flavor and taste constructed around the unwanted, less vaunted parts of flesh, for we were too poor to waste the only things we could afford in the first place and thus invention, that child of necessity, has led to meeting austerity's needs.

This is why, if one is carnivorous at least, it is a homage to eat all and waste naught, of course, in the human tide of things the tongue because of the gift of speech has both a practical and totemic enormity attached to it and a man's word is not only his bond, but his distinct self as expressed via larynx or language, but always the tongue.

Throughout the history of our species adjudged charlatans, imposters, renegades, decipherers, heretics and would-be heretics, carriers of other books, other psalms and Gods, were all liable to the severe silence of their tongue's removal (in few cases were these eaten, but recipes for the same have not, for charity, come down to us).

Serve with relish.

Clarissa (smiling happily): Isn't this restaurant nice Madge?

Madge (looking around critically): It does seem quite elegant, Clarissa.

Waiter (pouring ice water into their glasses): Hello ladies, what can I get for you?

Madge (looking worried): It's so late Clarissa, maybe we should just have a sandwich?

Clarissa (rolling eyes): Oh bother, Madge--I'm feeling quite peckish!

Madge (sighs): Very well, let's order.

Clarissa (grinning triumphantly at the waiter): What's today's special?

Waiter (smilining benevolently): We have a very nice beef tongue sandwich on special today, ma'am.

Clarissa (smiling happily): That sounds delicious.

Madge (with a moue of distate): Yuck--I would never eat something that came out of an animal's mouth!

Waiter (smiling blandly): How about a nice egg salad sandwich?

(I know it's a very old joke. Let the downvoting commence!)

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