Monday, February 09, 2009

Brain eating parasites

Something that eats your brains sounds like it came out of a zombie movie, but it’s a serious issue. Trichinosis is a very common ailment, a side effect of eating undercooked pork or wild critters.

These little nasties literally eat your brain out from under you, and like the pork tapeworm, they are a leading cause of brain seizures.

But there is some misinformation here which has caused a decline in pork brain consumption:

Brains - Eatin’ high on the hog

When my cousins butcher a hog, they fight over who gets to crack open the skull for these tasty cerebrals. Me, I much prefer canned brains, because fresh brains have a leathery membrane cover which is a real pain to peel off. . . .

A North Carolina favorite is a heaping helping of brains and eggs (scrambled eggs), and while brains are seriously high in cholesterol, the canned brains have been properly cooked and do not have parasites. Most gray matter from grocery stores comes in milk gravy . . .

Beware of infected brains

But what about people who might eat brains which are being eaten my parasites? This New York Times article notes that doctors advise not to eat the brains of wild critters:

"Families that eat brains follow only certain rituals.

Someone comes by the house with just the head of a squirrel,'' Dr. Weisman said, ''and gives it to the matriarch of the family.

She shaves the fur off the top of the head and fries the head whole. The skull is cracked open at the dinner table and the brains are sucked out.'' It is a gift-giving ritual. "

See my notes here on upscale redneck cuisine and the role of fresh brains in a healthy diet.