Cows are not pretty animals. The beast’s hygiene is far from perfect—mulling about in mud, stepping in piles of steaming refuse from yesterday’s lunch, playing host to a myriad of flies, and even chewing their cud. Cud—the word alone has a grueling ring to it, don’t you think? I am sure you can understand why the thought of eating their hooves did not appeal to me. Yes, the hooves—the cow’s respective toe-nails; the extremity that holds dirty little dark secrets within its crevices as tightly as we do skeletons in the closet. Even assuming the skeletons can be cleared out, and the closet dusted for cobwebs, how do you prepare such an area for dining? You don’t, would be my heartfelt suggestion.
People who insist on this form of torture boil the hooves in a steaming cauldron of water. Boiling causes the hoof to take on an oily sheen and rubber-like quality. Eating rubbery hoof is like chewing a mix between abandoned retread from the highway and some sort of animal fat—greasy, stinky, and difficult to grind into smaller pieces. Since you cannot break the monstrosity into miniature demons, you are forced to swallow the nightmare whole. Swallowing a sizable piece inevitably induces the gag reflex at the back of the throat, and awakens vivid childhood memories of choking on marbles and slimy spit wads you inhaled while preparing to shoot. As the squishy intruder oozes down your throat and into your stomach, you get the distinct feeling that it will come out much the same way in the end. At this point, you feel a need to smile and show courteous gratitude to your eager-to-please hostess, and would do so were it not for the mountain of hoof still lying on your plate and jiggling like disturbed Jell-O. Jell-O—Did I mention that both Jell-O and marshmallows are made of cow hooves? Just add sugar and voilà—dessert! It’s amazing what a spoonful (or nine or ten) of sugar can do to make the cow hoof go down in a more desirable way.