The fifth quarter refers to all those parts of the animal classically-considered less noble or desirable, but they’re certainly no less tasty!
Normally quadrupedal animals are divided first in half, with each half divided again to give us four quarters. By fifth quarter we mean all the rest of the animal, particularly the internal organs, otherwise known as offal.
The consumption of offal goes back to antiquity. As Roberto Campitelli of Osteria di Monteverde tells us in this “How It’s Made”, Roman cuisine was and and still is one of the heartlands of this tradition, where unique dishes like the coratella, coda alla vaccinara and the pajata were all developed. There’s a historic reason for this: the fifth quarter was traditionally used to pay the employees of the slaughterhouses, in lieu of money.
This may all seem shocking, but in reality the consumption of the fifth quarter is a sustainable and delicious practice: it’s a core principle of Slow Meat, that teaches us not to waste an animal life for just a few prestigious cuts. If we must kill animals for food, then we must eat all of the animal!
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