Posted by: Jamie Stamm | March 11, 2008

Biting tongue (but not my own)

“I’m not trying that.”

The words flew out of my mouth before I even had time to consider how rude they might sound to my host, David Upchurch, owner of Sparks restaurant, whom I was interviewing for an upcoming feature story.

So what was the “that” in question? It was la lengua – better known as cow tongue.

I consider myself pretty adventuresome when it comes to food. Already that afternoon I had eaten yucca (delicious), goat (succulent) and oxtail, learning what the latter was only after engaging in a game of “name that meat” – David wouldn’t tell me what it was until after I had sampled it and then made a guess. It turned out to be the best thing I ate that afternoon.

But cow tongue? C’mon. I had to draw the line somewhere.

David, however, would have none of my protests, signaling one of his employees to bring me a tongue taco.

While it was being prepared, David tried to talk up the tongue, noting that a tongue is soft and that it has no bones, fat or gristle. And, he said, tongue is probably the No. 1 meat requested for tacos at Sparks.

I still wasn’t sold. In my head, I was picturing a long slab of pink meat (I swear in my imagination the tongue had visible taste buds on it), and my stomach was starting to turn.

But when the server placed my tongue taco in front of me, it wasn’t at all what I had been envisioning. The meat was nicely browned and cut into small squares. And when I bit into the taco, the tongue wasn’t too soft or too tough … or too gross.

In fact, it was surprisingly good. It was well-seasoned and a good match with the tomatoes, cilantro and homemade hot sauce that dressed the taco.

I took another bite.

Yep, still good. And even better after the third bite, and then the fourth.

So lesson learned. Always try new things.

You can read more about the authentic Mexican and Dominican menu offerings at Sparks, which is now open for lunch and dinner, in Wednesday’s edition of The Sanford Herald.



  1. i pictured the tongue long and pink with giant taste buds hanging out the end of the taco , too. You sure don’t take after your mom , thank god

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