After all that talk about El Meson de San Agustin after we got a taste of their cremas (cream-based soups), I had to walk over for an early lunch.
I savored the lengua (beef tongue). It always reminds me of my younger years. My parents would drive us out to La Matanza (it literally was a slaughterhouse, hence the nickname from us Spanish-speakers) near the Illinois/Indiana border and my parents would always talk to the butchers on the side. In addition to the standard meat purchase, we would score free menudo (tripe), patas (the feet), la cabeza (the head) and yes, la lengua (the tongue).
I called my dad, just to confirm that my memories were correct. He said that yes, indeed, in the mid-70s, most of what we got from la matanza was free because it was scheduled to be thrown away. He said that as soon as they realized how the Mexican butchers were passing on the “undesirable” scraps of cows and pigs and chickens to other Mexican immigrants, they started to charge for it in the 80s.
My brother and I didn’t care where the meals we ate came from, to us they were delicious. As adults, we are grateful to the Salvation Army for some staples, the farm stands who would sell their throw-away fruits & veggies and to those Mexican butchers at the slaughterhouse for filling our innards with innards – ha. Nowadays, tongue meat goes for as much as a decent steak at a mainstream grocery store :(.
My only problem now that I can actually afford to buy tongue is the preparation. If only I could cook it myself… or better yet, just buy me lunch at El Meson.