The word “offal” is derived from the slaughterhouse phrase “off fall” and is used to describe the pieces that fall off of a carcass when it is being butchered. That is, the undesirables. Recently, eating entrails has become chic in America and abroad. In 2004, the English chef Fergus Henderson wrote a cookbook called The Whole Beast which chefs have lauded as the canonical guide to cooking offal. But eating innards and hooves was historically a matter of necessity, especially among the poor.
Until recently, offal was considered repulsive by many North Americans. But at Babbo, we’ve had offal on the menu since we opened in 1998. So unusual was its presence on an Italian menu in New York City, Ruth Reichl commented in our New York Times review in 1998:
“Mr. Batali’s menu isn’t safe, either. He has loaded it with dishes that Americans are not supposed to like. Fresh anchovies and warm testa (that’s head cheese) are among the appetizers, and pastas include bucatini with octopus, and ravioli filled with beef cheeks and topped with crushed squab livers. A big bowl ofsquid constitutes one main course, and sweetbreads with bacon is another. Lambs’ tongues and calf’s brains are frequent specials.”
Nowadays you wouldn’t blink twice seeing offal offered on a menu, though there are still many who shy away from lungs, heart, and liver from a young animal. But when properly cooked, these meats can be as tasty, if not more, than more traditional cuts.
In Sardegna, the cooking is based on subsistence agriculture and offal is used in especially imaginative ways. Sa Cordula is made from the hearts, livers and spleens of a lamb cut into strips, seasoned and held together with their cleaned and twisted intestines and sprigs of herbs, put on a spit, then grilled or fried.
 Fergus Henderson, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating (New York: CCC, 2004).