One of the most vivid memories of my early childhood was getting my first and last horrifying taste of liver. I remember how slimy and revolting it looked coming out of the package, and the stench it gave off as it was being cooked. I knew I wouldn’t like it, but my father told me I couldn’t know I didn’t like something without having tried it. The only positive I took from the experience is that I now know that I have the ability to know I won’t like something even though I have never tried it.
When I was a kid it seemed like there was always someone around me eating liver. That was back when people only ate about 12 different things in their entire lives, and now that the nose to tail fad is in full swing and people are seemingly willing to try anything, nobody wants anything to do with liver. You can grab a dozen cookbooks from your local bookstore and not find a single reference to liver. Anthony Bourdain eats insects and intestines, but I don’t think there is any evidence of him trying liver.
I have travelled to many countries, and though I am not that adventurous and eater, I have tried my share of different foods, and though I’ve tasted many things I didn’t like (octopus tastes like eating a thick rubber band), nothing has ever come close to the revolting taste of liver. I’m not just limiting this to foods; I am counting everything I have ever tasted in my life, including dirt, salt water, my own blood, and soap. I can’t imagine anything that could taste as horrible as liver, except perhaps some actual poisons.
I have no idea why previous generations choose to eat liver. In Newfoundland, where I am from, all kinds of nice tasting seafood was always more widely available than cow liver. There has never been a person in Newfoundland who ever had to choose between eating liver and starving to death. I suspect that is the same in most parts of the world. Yet people still chose to fry themselves up a pile of slimy liver.
It is a sign of societal progress that hardly any of eat an organ whose function is to filter toxic garbage out of cows’ blood. I suspect though that when liver is on the verge of disappearing altogether from grocery stores that some group of pretentious foodies will try to turn it into the latest culinary fad. Though I am glad that liver is disappearing from shelves and dinner tables, I must confess that I would get some satisfaction at seeing a pretentious hipster foodie forcing his or herself to eat liver and pretending to like it.