In Italian, it’s testa. In French, fromage de tete. In German it’s sulze. In English, it’s headcheese. No matter the language, it doesn’t have a very pretty name.
But take a look.
Can you imagine a slice of deli meat that’s more beautiful that that? A lacy, shimmering mosaic just waiting to be popped into my mouth, wobbly with gelatin, meaty with cheeks.
Rest assured that within seconds of the photo being snapped, that lovely slice was melting on my tongue. I bought the headcheese at Eataly, and ate it with my fingers, pretty much by myself (okay, Dahlia helped a little). It was gone all too soon.
Photos by Olga Massov
I think I fell in love with headcheese after reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. I don’t remember which book, but Pa must have killed a pig and Ma made headcheese out of the scraps. I liked tongue sandwiches as a kid, and was intrigued by the idea of added cheek and jowl. Obviously I wasn’t the squeamish type.
Anyway, I’m not offering any headcheese recipes here. I think it’s the kind of thing better left to folks who know what they are doing and have access to plenty of fresh pig heads.
I’m just posting a little reminder to other headcheese-lovers to go seek some out. It’s the kind of thing one can easily forget about, until you see it and remember.