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When I read 2 articles cheek to jowl about how offal food is becoming, I figured something was afoot.

Now If you can stomach it, and don't bust a lung in all the excitement, I'll explain how there's a cerebral trend brewing that celebrates eating....the cerebrum....of animals that is....

So let me vent my spleen a little and I'll help you get in touch with your innards self...

Yes, like trucker hats and lounge music, the bland and utilitarian is now on the cutting edge of butcher shops and with-it restaurants. So now it's hip to eat hip....or pancreas, tongue or tail....and the most un-fashionable food of all is being cooked (and written about), by every chef or writer worth his fleur de sel. Offal gets its name from the waste and bit parts that fall off a butchered animal. Traditionally it was the stuff the po' folks ate. You might say it was the last place most would go for sustenance, but now, it's the last stop on the trendy food train. I attribute this to the faddishness of food in America, and our chefs always looking for the Next Big Thing to bedazzle their customers with ....at least those wishing to be bedazzled.

Of course, across the pond, just like sex and public corruption, eating offal is no big thing.

In fact, when I was in Rome a few months ago, I made a point to visit Checchino....a venerable establishment in the old Testacccio meat market neighborhood. Checchino has been in business since 1887, and specializes in what they call the fifth quarter of the animal. There I dined on tiny tubes of pajeta (or the small intestines of baby lambs still redolent of mother's milk and a sumptuous salad laced with veal trotters. Son of Food Man devoured a plate of unrecognizable beef entrails, and, ever the trooper, even the Food Gal got into the act by lapping up some soft, custardy marrow directly from the bones.

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But in the world of can you top this, these are the equivalent of a Big Mac. Lambs tongue and chicken hearts are small potatoes next to such exotica as rooster testicles, squid intestines and pork penis, Gosh, I'm getting' hungry just thinking about 'em

I'm guessin' Insects are next, but somehow I can't see Mario Batali whipping up a stew of fried cicadas, with an earthworm mole.

And speaking of Big Mac's, if you've ever dined.....did I say dined?.....at Mickey D's, you owe it to yourself to see "SuperSize Me", the very funny fast food film by Morgan Spurlock. See it, and you'll never be that happy about a happy meal again.

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