Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Head cheese is in fact not a cheese, but rather a terrine made of meat taken from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) that would not otherwise be considered appealing. It may also include meat from the feet and heart.
Historically the cleaned (all organs removed) head was slow cooked to produce a gelatin (which would form from the bone marrow); containing any incidental meat which came off the head. The more modern method involves adding gelatin to meat, which is then cooked in a mold. Head cheese is usually eaten at room temperature, or sliced as a sandwich meat. In England, head cheese is referred to as brawn, and in France it is called fromage de tête, which translates as "cheese of the head". In Louisiana, the highly seasoned "Hog's Head Cheese" is very popular as a cold cut or appetizer. This preparation is also something of a staple of soul food, and may also be known as "souse meat" or simply "souse".
Perhaps this dish was the inspiration for William Heath Robinson's macabre drawing Remarkable case of absence of mind in a Dutch restaurant (1912), in which a diner, distracted by his newspaper, mistakes his sleeping neighbour's bald head for an Edam cheese, and cuts a slice from it.
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