Organ meats, offal, or the euphemistic "variety meats" are too often overlooked (at best) or run away from, with disgusted noises issuing forth from the escapee. If only more people would try them! Most of it is a mental block, of course. At what point did we decide that muscle was the only kind of meat we should eat?
I was raised with my German great-grandmother, who grew up on a farm. Every part of a slaughtered animal was used. To throw away a good part of that animal would have been unthinkable. That sort of waste was not only a luxury, but, given the delightful flavors of the various organs, would have been a real loss to gastronomic satisfaction. When I travel to Europe, I'm always thrilled to find organ meats on the menus and available for purchase in the stores. Heaven!
I'll ease the uninitiated in and begin with tripe. The simple definition of tripe is: the lining of a cow's stomach(s). However, tripe from pigs, goats or sheep can also be called tripe. But, the beef version is the most prevalent. There are 4 kinds of tripe, just as there are 4 stomachs in a cow or other ruminant. However, only 3 are usually available commercially, and only 2 are popular. The most readily available type is "honeycomb", from the second stomach, the reticulum. It is so named because the inner side has a pattern similiar to a honeycomb. Most recipes you will find call for this type. "Blanket" or smooth tripe comes from the first stomach, the rumen. This is the type favored for menudo. The third type available is one I like very much. From the omasum, it's called "bible" "book" or "leaf" tripe due to the hanging sheets of lining coming from the stomach. The fourth type is from the Abomasum and is called "reed" tripe. But it is usually not sold or sought after, due to its glandular tissue.
Trivia: the word 'ruminate' comes from ruminant...to slowly digest something.
Tripe dishes are popular in many countries...Patsas in Greece, Drisheen in Ireland, Dobrada in Portugal, Trippa in Italy, Andouille in France, Pepperpot Soup in America and Pho soup in Vietnam, for example. Popular belief has it that tripe is a cure for hangover and for improving your sex life! So why not eat some tripe today??? Try my recipe for Trippa alla Milanese and see what you think!