brain food

Fried-brain sandwich

A fried-brain sandwich is generally a sandwich with sliced calves' brains on sliced bread. Thinly sliced fried slabs on white toast became a ubiquitous menu item in St. Louis, Missouri, after the rise of the city's stockyards in the late 1880s, although demand there has so dwindled that only a handful of eating places still offer them. But they remain popular in the Ohio River valley, where they are served heavily battered on hamburger buns. In Evansville, Indiana, they are still offered at a couple of "Mom and Pop" eateries and remain a favorite culinary treat featured at the city's annual West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.

The rise of incidents of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow disease" since the late 20th century will likely further diminish the remaining appeal of this curious regional dish. Brains from cows over 30 months old at slaughter are no longer permitted in human food in the United States (Hefling, 2004). Some restaurants have taken to serving pigs' brains instead of cow brains due to BSE concerns. But as pigs' brains are substantially smaller than cows' brains, the amount of preparation required for each sandwich increases. Each brain must be cleaned before being sliced and pigs' brains produce fewer slices. Pig's brains are also much higher in cholesterol at over 1,000 mg per ounce.

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