Sour Lung Soup is a German dish, most popular in Bavaria. In German, the dish is called saure Lüngerl, which translates to “sour (or acidic) lungs.” Oddly enough, the dish isn’t technically a soup at all. Finely sliced veal offal—such as lung, heart, and sweetbreads—is placed in a bowl and smothered in a sauce made of vinegar, sour cream, and parsley with bread dumplings.
The name “sour lung soup” might sound gross, but the stuff reminds me of borscht, an Eastern European sweet and sour cabbage soup. Sour lung soup is one of my favorite dishes in the whole world. The lungs shred up like cabbage or veggies, and because it’s not a muscle mass, there is no fat. Fat is the place where off-tasting flavors thrive, so soup made with lung is very clean and delicious.
An essential organ for air-breathing animals, the lungs’ main function is to bring oxygen from the air into the bloodstream and to take carbon dioxide out of the bloodstream. Most mammals have two lungs, which are soft and spongy. Human lungs are located on either side of the heart, separated by lobes. Although the lungs look similar, they are not identical. The right lung has three lobes, whereas the left has two. The left lung is smaller to make room for the part of the heart that sits on the left side of the chest.
The word “lung” comes from the Old English word lunge, which means “light.” This is because lungs are a very light (as in not heavy) organ. This is also why lungs are sometimes called lights. They are so light, they are the only organ that will float in water.
There are 1,500 miles of airways in the lungs, which helps since the average human takes 22,000 breaths every twenty-four hours. Women and children tend to have a faster breathing rate than men, which means they might be taking even more breaths in a day. It is possible to live with just one lung. Because you would not be getting as much oxygen it can limit physical activity, but people with one lung can live relatively normal lives.
The brain detects a food’s acidity through the taste buds. The more acidic a food is, the more sour it tastes. Something like a lemon, which has a large amount of citric acid, will really make your mouth pucker. In sour lung soup, the sour taste comes from vinegar in the sauce. The pH scale, which measures acid, runs from 0 to 14. Anything less than 7 is acidic and anything more than 7 is basic. Pure water is neutral and has a pH level of 7. Vinegar rates at 2.4, which explains why it tastes sour. Why do sour foods make you pucker your lips? There has been no conclusion on why this happens, but it might be the body’s reaction to stop you from eating bad foods. When milk goes bad, it has a sour taste. The body might pucker lips to prevent you from putting more in your mouth.
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