THE very word ‘offal’ strikes fear into the stomach of the average diner.
It’s the parts of the animal most of us wouldn’t knowingly eat: the liver, kidneys, heart and tail – even the sweet breads (don’t ask!).
The term offal is often used pejoratively to mean rubbish or waste.
But the fine offal lunch served at the Lower Royal George, Scammonden, is fit for a king rather than the bin.
Landlord Steve Lowe and his wife and landlady Margaret started the lunch in 2008 on the recommendation of friend Bob Baume.
Bob, a beer salesman, had been wooed by a platter of pigs’ cheeks at another pub and advised the Lowes to serve the same.
Steve, a former butcher, was no stranger to off-cuts and the lunch was launched twice a year.
Initially a handful of dedicated offal eaters sampled the delights of tripe, trotters and tails.
But word spread and now the pub fills up for the lunches offering a super selection of the bits, mostly from Broster’s Farm Shop, Ainley Top.
The lunch even has a regular vegetarian member, though he goes for the beer and craic.
You might wince at the prospect of eating offal, but chances are you’ve already eaten it in a different form.
“It usually goes to make sausages, so people are going to eat it anyway,” says Steve.
“As far as we know we’re the only pub in the area that serves offal. It’s earned the pub a bit of fame – and a bit of notoriety.
“We get quite a number here and I’m happy to have this event here.”
The secret to enjoying offal is not to give too much thought to where your food has come from, says Bob.
“I don’t know why I like it. Maybe it’s like why Cockneys like jellied eels.
“It’s something I’ve always eaten. I never really thought about it. If you’re disposing of an animal it’s only fair to use all of it.
“You get some disgusted reactions, but so what? You won’t know if you like it until you try it.”
And is there anything a bone fide offal fan won’t consume?
Bob says: “There’s no part of an animal I wouldn’t eat. We’ve tried most of them.
“But I don’t think I could face eyeballs. I wouldn’t eat dog or crocodile either.”
Having enjoyed liver and kidneys before, extoling the pleasures of offal to me was like preaching to the converted.
And while I wasn’t sold on tripe, Margaret’s oxtail stew was outstanding – rich meat which just glided off the bone.
The lambs’ livers and chicken kidney stir fry was pretty tasty too.
Offal, you could say, is offally tasty and it’s an injustice that it has an unsavoury image.