Dear Mr. Gold:
In an article about haggis I recently read, the bit of trivia that I can’t stop thinking about is: “Lungs are prohibited for human consumption in the United States.” I can only guess that this is to protect us at places like Pink’s and Scooby’s; a hot-dog-ingredient law. Please tell me the truth about this mysterious lung-eating ban.
—Geraldine Johnson, West Hollywood
Dear Ms. Johnson:
Out of all the possible parts of the ovine (and bovine) body, lungs are illegal because their vast interior is uniquely suited to bacterial contamination — really, if you managed to uncrimp one of the things, the surface area could probably be measured in acres rather than feet, which is great for the absorption of barnyard oxygen, but also like Dodger Stadium for the pleasure of barnyard bacteria. They are almost impossible to inspect for wholesomeness. I’ve eaten lung a few times — in Italy, cooks dip slices of calves’ lung into a light batter and fry them, and lamb’s lungs are part of the traditional Roman dish coratella, a rather good sauté of lamb’s innards with artichokes — and you aren’t missing much. Lung is all bland, light, cartilaginous crunch. And as for the haggis, of which lung is an essential albeit minor component, I refer you to the old joke about the man who, upon tasting the dish for the first time, remarked, “First I thought I had taken a big bite of dung, and then I wished that I had.”