Intrepid Optimist is the place where I can share my stories; fact, fiction and thoughts from the past and present. It’s Written by myself for people who believe adventure knows no age
In case of confusion, I am not referring to tripe as in trash, rubbish or the nonsense some of our politicians are tend to spout. I mean tripe as in the white, spongy stuff which is the edible lining from a cow or pig stomach.
For many, just mention the word tripe (edible version) and they will gag – but little do they know just what they are missing. It has been on the menu for a few thousand years; in 1200 BC it was served at the banquet to honour Achilles, hero of the Trojan Wars.
Though no longer in fashion due to our increasing trend for only the choicest of animal flesh, Tripe is still popular outside the English speaking world. Most European countries list it as a speciality.
The French have their, Tripe al mode Caen – the Spanish, Callos a la Madrileña. Rumania, Ciorba de But. Polish, Flaczki. Russian Cуп-суп. Italy, Trippa ala Florentina and the, English, Tripe and Onions. As I child, I could be guaranteed to be home early if mother was serving tripe & onions, with chips for lunch.
Tripe is still one of my favourite “speciality dishes”. Recently in Italy I enjoyed Trippa ala Florentina, during a long, convivial lunch with a group of friends, on the terrace of a old world restaurant in the middle of Florence’s vegetable market.
In Europe we distinguish between four different types of beef tripe, and use all four. Honeycomb Tripe, the most tender. Book tripe, midway between the smooth and honeycomb tripe; Reed Tripe. Comes from the fourth chamber of the cow’s stomach. Plain or flat Tripe, which is considered the least desirable tripe amongst tripe lovers.
In the 1960s there were hundreds of tripe shops in Lancashire. One chain, the UCP, (United Cattle Products) ran a string of offal butchers across the north of England, many of which had inexpensive cafe-restaurants attached. At one time there were over 200 in Greater Manchester alone, where one could buy tripe, cowheel, ox tail and black pudding.
As one can read, tripe is embedded in my memories. In the 70/80s I lived in Ecuador and can still recall the bullfights in Quito (don’t get upset, I’m no longer an aficionado). It was tradition after the annual December corridas to go to Las Feroles, the only Spanish restaurant at that time, Not being a great lover of Paella I would always have Callos ala Madrileña and the dear owners, Raphael and his wife Lisa, both flamenco dancers, would entertain us royally.
Don’t take my word for it. If you have never tried it – you should, before this underrated member of the offal family disappears for ever. I implore you – give it a chance before it is too late and I am not talking a load of tripe.
Louise Jensen - Writer - www.louisejensen.co.uk
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