“Barbacoa” is Spanish for “barbecue”, but in Mexico it’s a special type of barbecue – one that primarily involves the calf’s head and its contents, e.g. Long reads. “When I was a child, the barbacoa that emerged was made up of three parts: cachete (cheek), lengua (tongue) and mixta (mixture of brains, lips, eyeballs and probably, if you’re not careful, d ‘ears,’ National Book Award finalist Domingo Martinez wrote in an article for Texas Monthly (via Longreads). Today, barbacoa is typically served sliced (brainless) like a delicious street taco.
In France, calf’s heads are appreciated as a high-end delicacy, according to EnglishCrazy. The site describes “calf’s head”, as it is called in France, as the most tender meat, including the flesh of the face, the tongue and the brains. To make the calf’s head, the calf’s head is boiled long enough to make the meat tender and the skin gelatinous, according to TasteAtlas. It is then cut into thick slices and served with vegetables and a light herbaceous sauce called “ravigote”.
In Italy, calf’s head is a traditional Christmas dish. It is also finding its way onto tables across the UK and parts of Europe. It is also consumed in the United States, like many other animal heads, which we will discuss in a moment.