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You'll never be a member of the Innard Circle if the likes of brains in black butter, Uzbek boiled spleen or Fujianese pig heart make you squirm. Since 1999, an intrepid band of New York City foodies has been meeting about once a month to indulge their penchant for "nose to tail eating" in a city that provides great opportunity to do so. The city's thousands of ethnic restaurants are constantly refreshed by new waves of immigrants, many of whose cultures serve animal parts that most Americans wouldn't touch with a 10-foot fork.
For the organ-lovers though, what really gets their goat—or pig or sheep or rabbit—is when a restaurant is out of a delicacy they traveled across town to sample.
"I mean really, who eats bull's penis before 7:00 p.m.?" complained Bobby Ghosh at a May meeting, recounting a recent trip to a northern Chinese restaurant in Queens. They had to settle for the animal's somewhat chewy testicles and a dish on the menu called "Big Buckstraps Paddywack." The waitress, who only spoke Mandarin, pointed energetically to her diaphragm when asked what they were eating, Mr. Ghosh said. That was as close as the group got to discerning what part of the animal it was. It was tough but tasty, they say.
Digging in to a five-course meal of organ meats specially prepared for the group by Umbrian chef Sandro Fioriti at his Upper East Side eatery Sandro's, journalist Daniel Okrent, one of the group's founders, tries to explain what attracts him to innards. "Growing up, I was a very picky eater," he said. But his wife Becky, a food critic and a member, introduced him to what's known as the "fifth quarter" of the animal and he's never looked back.
"We've had people join us for a single meal and never come back, without explanation," Ms. Easton said. "There's a certain kind of discomfort that registers on their face when they realize what they've gotten into."